Lecture #2 Tues Feb 2, 2010 A Brief History of Science
A whirlwind tour of the development of science
Rise of Christianity as
Beginning of modern science
Pythagoras, Plato. Aristotle
Lecture #10 Tues 2 Mar 2010 Quantum mechanics
Quantum mechanics = mechanics of very small objects, e.g., atoms.
quantum = packet. Sometimes (not always) the change in a system is discrete, not
Like relativity, quantum mechani
Lecture #12 Tues 9 Mar 2010 Timescape (Part II)
The physics of Timescape and the search for meaning in the universe
Both Timescape and The Dispossessed discuss relativity and quantum mechanics;
both propose modifications to bring more meaning to the worki
Lecture #13 Thurs 11 Mar 2010 The Dispossessed
NB: This will probably take more than one lecture period.
Ursula Kroeber LeGuin. Born in 1929 in Berkeley, California, daughter of writer
Theodora Kroeber and anthropologist Alfred L. Kroeber. (Educated Radcl
Lecture #11 Thurs 4 Mar 2010 Timescape (Part I)
Gregory Benford born 1941 Mobile, Alabama twin brother, Jim (whose wife Hilary is
British) BS degree physics from University of Oklahoma 1963; PhD 1967 UCSD
Professor UC Irvine Specialty: plasma physics and
Lecture #9 Thurs 25 Feb 2010 Relativity
Next: quantum mechanics Both began around 1900.
Michelson and Morley expt (1887) used an interferometer to measure differences in
velocities in two different directions simultaneously. It failed to
Lecture #6 Tues Feb 16, 2010: How to Read Science Fiction
Part 1: How to read SF (ideas from Samuel R. Delaney)
(A) Language functions differently in SF than in mainstream literature.
Statements metaphorical in mainstream can be literal in SF.
The SF read
Lecture #5 Thurs Feb 11 2010: History of Science Fiction
Proto-SF: Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, Mary Shelley (1818).
Jules Verne (1828-1905), voyages extraordinares. First universally acknowledged
science fiction author. Set up genre expectati
Lecture #3 Feb 4 Jan 2010 What is Science?
Last time: Development of science includes tension between logic and
Plato: distrust imperfect material world, use logic and intuition
Aristotle: logic (but also observation); hierarchal c
Lecture #9 Tues 23 Feb 2010 What is Physics?
Physics is the study of the fundamental properties of matter and energy.
Fundamental field of physics: mechanics = motion of objects.
Classical mechanics (motion of objects on human scales of size, time, and sp
Lecture #4 Tues Feb 9 2010 What is Science Fiction?
Descriptive (how science fiction is actually used) not
prescriptive (how it ought to be used)
Genre: A distinctive class or category of literary composition.
(Alt definition): A bundle of conventions (tr
Lecture #7 Thurs 18 Feb 2010 Case Studies: 2 Classic Novels
Frankenstein, or, the Modern Prometheus (1818)
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797 1851) daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, early
feminist, and William Godwin, political writer. Godwin was friends wit
Lecture #14 Tues Mar 16 General Relativity
History of gravity and motion of the planets
Newton: general theory of celestial orbits
Aristotle: planets must move in circles
Problem with retrograde motion of planet