Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Dwight H. Terry Lectures on Cosmology and Philosophy : Yale University

The Hubble "Deep Field" Photo of Distant Galaxies

In our Level 7/8 classes, we have taken two TOEFL listening examinations. TOEFL stands for "Test of English as a Foreign Language." It is designed for foreign students who want to attend an American university. Actually, these tests are for advanced English learners. Although not advanced, but high intermediate, our students did very well with the tests indicating a readiness to understand and appreciate lectures given in various subjects at English speaking colleges and universities. This capacity provides a great opportunity for our higher level students to not only improve their English through watching these lectures but also acquire knowledge about the world, and in this case, the universe they inhabit. Through the expanded technology of the internet and the increased willingness of universities to share their lectures with the general public, classes and lectures on a a very high level are being made available to a wider and more diverse audience than ever before. These Terry lectures are challenging, but also very interesting and sometimes visually stunning. Here, then, are these lectures given at Yale University in October, 2009. The presenters are a husband and wife team, Joel R. Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams. They describe the most recent, very dramatic discoveries in cosmology and how those discoveries are relevant for our lives.

Lecture 2. Stardust Plus Time Equals Us. In this lecture, Joel and Nancy tell how
our visual universe is a very small percentage of the total mass of the universe. Actually, the universe is largely dark matter and dark energy. The lecturers also surprise us by telling us what our true origins are, and how consciousness of our cosmic identity can change our attitudes towards our lives.

Lecture 3: "The Cosmically Pivotal Moment". In this lecture, Nancy and Joel show us that we are in a unique time period in many respects. Since galaxies are moving away from us at such a rapid speed, this is the only time in which we can view so many. But also, we're at a pivotal moment with respect to our planet. We must change how we treat our environment or our world will become increasingly uninhabitable. Global warming is a reality, and we must confront the problem now.

Lecture 4: The Cosmic Society. In their final lecture, Nancy Abrams and Joel Primrack use the solid evidence of recent cosmology to etch a "story" of our origins. It is a convincing story that links all of us on this planet because it outlines our true position in this cosmos, our place in the story. Therefore, this true story of the big bang and the expanding universe provides a universal myth that can form the foundation for a cosmic society to which each and all of us belong.

Fly Through The Universe with Space Music

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