ASTR340 : Origins of the Universe

(Fall 2013 : Prof. Reynolds)


The Hot Big Bang theory is one of the most remarkable successes of modern science.   Within the framework of this theory, we can understand (in general terms at least) the evolution of the Universe from a fraction of a second after the Big Bang up to the present time.   The Hot Big Bang gives us a framework in which to understand the creation of matter, the formation of the first elements, and the birth of cosmic structure (including galaxies and by extension stars, planets, and us).  This course gives a non-technical introduction to the Hot Big Bang theory, including the recent realization that the Universe is dominated by a mysterious “Dark Energy”.   It ends with a discussion of the very early Universe and, in particular, the idea for explosive “inflation” in the first instances after the big bang.

Class syllabus available HERE

Course description


Lecture schedule

Class 1 (9/3/13) : Introduction (PDF)

Class 2 (9/5/13) : Early Cosmology (PDF)

Class 3 (9/10/13) : Cosmology of the Scientific Revolution (PDF)

Class 4 (9/12/13) : Newton’s Laws and Galilean Relativity (PDF)

Class 5 (9/17/13) : Gravity! (PDF)

Class 6 (9/19/13) : Discovery of the extragalactic Universe (PDF)

Class 7 (9/24/13) : Special Relativity I (PDF)

Class 8 (9/26/13) : Special Relativity II (PDF)

Class 9 (10/1/13) : Special Relativity III (PDF)

Class 10 (10/3/13) : General Relativity I (PDF)

Class 11 (10/8/13) : General Relativity II (PDF)

Class 12 (10/10/13) : Black Holes (PDF)

Class 13 (10/15/13) : Gravitational radiation (PDF)

Class 14 (10/24/13) : Cosmological Principles (PDF)

Class 15 (10/29/13) : Discovery of the expansion of the Universe (PDF)

Class 16 (10/31/13 - 11/5/13) : Cosmological models (PDF)

Class 17 (11/7/13) : The Cosmic Microwave Background (PDF)

Class 18 (11/12-14/13) : Where did matter come from? (PDF)

Class 19 (11/14-19/13) : Where did the elements come from? (PDF)

Class 20 (11/21-26/13) : An inventory of our Universe; discovering the dark side (PDF)

Class 21 (12/3-5/13) : Where did the galaxies come from?  (PDF)

Class 22 (12/5/13) : Four puzzles of standard cosmology  (PDF)

Class 23 (12/12/13) : Inflation  (PDF)

Homeworks and other materials

Homework 1 : Early Ideas and the Newtonian Universe (PDF)

Homework 2 : Special Relativity  (PDF)

Homework 3 : General Relativity  (PDF)

Homework 4 : Cosmological Models  (PDF)

Homework 5 : Cosmological Models  (PDF)

Homework 6 : Dark Matter/Energy, Structure, and Inflation  (PDF)

Midterm formula sheet (PDF)

Midterm solutions (PDF)

Final formula sheet (PDF)

Prof. Reynolds Oxford Lecture on “Black Holes and Galaxy Formation” (click)

Amazing panorama of the optical sky showing our Galaxy (click)