Potential Final Exam Questions Period I: 4000 BCE – Ptolemy (c. 150 CE) 1. *What are the four main questions cosmology seeks to answer? How were they answered by some of the earliest cosmologies? 2. It is a common misconception that ancient astronomers believed the Earth to be flat; however, this is untrue. Explain three of the more prominent pieces of evidence supporting that the Earth was round. 3. What is retrograde motion? How did some of the different astronomers try to incorporate it in to their models? 4. Describe the Pythagoreans' cosmological and philosophical views. How did they compare to Plato's and Aristotle's views? 5. “You can’t step into the same river twice.” Explain how Heraclitus and Parmenides differ in their answers to the question of a changing universe? 6. *Explain the difference between a predictive model of the cosmos and a theoretical/physical model. Which type was Ptolemy’s model of the universe? 7. Why is Aristarchus (310-230BCE) called the Ancient Copernicus? 8. *Koestler calls Plato and Aristotle “twin-stars with a single centre of gravity, which circle round each other and alternate in casting their light on the generations that succeed them.” Compare and contrast the cosmology of Plato with that of Aristotle. 9. What was Aristarchus’ model and why was it largely ignored? 10. How did the approach to cosmologies change from Pythagoras to Aristotle? Mention how it changed from Pythagoras, Socrates, and Plato up to Aristotle. What were some of the reasons the approach changed? 11. *Explain how Plato’s theory goes against the bible’s book of genesis. 12. What are the similarities and differences between Aristotle and Plato's approaches and how is that reflected in each of their models? 13. “All is change” and “Nothing ever changes”. What do you suppose Heraclitus and Parmenides were exploring here, in terms of the great cosmological questions discussed on the first day of class. What element in nature did they discuss in order to convey their beliefs? Whose argument was more compelling (not right in the sense of what we know today, but more well structured or convincing). 14. *What is a cosmology and how (why) would such a thing originate in any culture. Why is a cosmology or even a creation story a fundamental aspect of a given culture? 15. As early as the 200’s B.C. the astronomer Aristarchus made radical statement regarding planetary position and movement. (heliocentrism) Why was this idea so strange at the time? Why was his theory disregarded and the idea not adopted as fact until ~2000 years later? 16. Why was Pythagoras of Samos a great influence on science and religion? What were his contributions to both? Discuss in detail at least one of his major beliefs/contributions/doctrine of the Pythagoreans? (unified vision, musical harmony of planets, numbers and figures, maybe even interesting facts of secret society) 17. What was Ptolemy argument that the Earth was the center of the Universe? 18. Aristarchus of Samos is best known for two things, explain in detail? 19. State five facts about Aristotle’s Astronomy. 20. *How is the creation of the cosmos in the Timaeus different from the Judeo-Christian account of creation? 21. What characteristics of Pythagorists brought about a unified vision of religion science and philosophy, and how was this new vision prevented prior to Pythagoras. 22. What are some characteristics that describe the cosmologies of the Egyptians and Mesopotamians and what common or central theme is attributed to them? 23. Describe the change from the earliest and most “primitive” cosmologies to the later ancient cosmologies of the Pythagoreans, Milesians and Ptolemy. 24. *The Ptolemaic model of the solar system is said to have been greatly influenced by Aristotle, in what ways is this true and what made Ptolemy’s model so influential? What makes his model flawed? Period II: Ptolemy (c. 150 CE) – Newton (c. 1730 CE) 25. *Compare and contrast the Ptolemaic model for retrograde motion with Copernicus’ explanation for it. If Copernicus was right, why wasn’t his model, which was simpler, accepted? 26. What were the factors that gave way to the Copernican revolution? Consider all factors in society at this time. (The answer I am getting at would include everything like The Reformation, Neo-Platonism, New Exploration, Calendar Reform etc.) 27. *How was Tycho Brahe able to take strong steps in breaking down entrenched Aristotelian thought, and what did his understudy Kepler do to help in later years? 28. Describe Aristotle’s theory of motion, and explain how it makes intuitive sense. Then compare it with Newton’s Laws of Motion and explain how Newton is correct. 29. Using the work of Johannes Kepler and Isaac Newton, explain how they played a role in establishing Copernican cosmology as the accepted cosmological system. How did the work of Kepler lay the foundations for Newton’s ushering in of the culmination of the Copernican Revolution? (In other words how was Kepler unable to explain why things were the way they were, but Newton could?) 30. *Describe the relationship between the Copernican model and the Catholic and Protestant Churches throughout the Renaissance. Thus, how did the Copernican model influence religious ideals at the time? 31. *Dante in his work the Divine Comedy showed how he perceived the structure of the universe. His concept of the universe was similar to that of the Church during this period of time. Indicate what Dante focused on with respect to cosmology and explain how his views were unique compared to others while relating to the ideas/beliefs of the church. 32. Throughout this period (period II) cosmology has been ripped apart and brought back together by a variety of thinkers, but Aristotle and Newton in particular. Explain who supported which idea and how they utilized this concept to explain cosmology. 33. *Throughout the semester, we studied in-depth the Aristotelian conception of the universe. Although it was flawed, why did it enjoy such a long period of acceptance within the western cosmological community? 34. Please describe Johannes Kepler's contributions to the field of astronomy. What did he do to give evidence for Copernican theory? What were his 3 laws? 35. *Galileo Galilei was able to provide some valuable evidence for allowing Copernican theory to be greatly accepted by fellow astronomers. What were some of his observations through the telescope that helped make Copernican theory more widely accepted? 36. Despite Aristarchus' heliocentric hypothesis, Copernicus is widely regarded as establishing the idea of a heliocentric universe. However, his theory was initially met with much criticism and little support from the broader community of astronomers at the time. Why? 37. *Why was heliocentrism, as proposed by Copernicus not originally accepted and who helped with supporting the theory? How? 38. How did the supernova and comet show Aristotelian theory to be incorrect, thanks to Tycho Brahe and other astronomers of the time? 39. How did Kepler combine the fields he knew into Astronomy? 40. *The Copernican model of the universe is considered by many to have been a revolutionary break from the predominant Ptolemaic model. Defend, challenge, or qualify this assertion. Consider the nature of the Copernican model as well as its ramifications for later cosmological models. 41. *Over the course of the semester we indicated five realities that prevented the adoption of an adequate model of the universe. What are those five factors and how have the various advances in cosmological thought overcome these obstacles. 42. *Early cosmologies were based upon religious ideologies rather than observation. Figures such as Ptolemy sought to make ideologically-based cosmologies conform to observations. Later cosmologies, however, are based solely upon observation. Explain how this came to be. Also, describe the significance of observational evidence for Galileo, Newton, and Kepler. 43. Before Galileo, cosmology was largely practiced and understood by the highly educated. How did Galileo popularize cosmology and what were the consequences for doing so? Period III: Newton (c. 1730 CE) – Today 44. Describe the Doppler effect and the frequency of a sound wave depending on a person's movement. 45. Euclidean, Spherical, and Hyperbolic geometries share 3 properties. Name and describe these 3 properties. 46. What is Maxwell's electromagnetic theory and did it agree with Newtonian physics? 47. *Describe Olbers’ Paradox and give a possible argument as to how it could be disproved. 48. *Compare and contrast Newton's “action at a distance” and Aristotle's theory. 49. *Discuss the similarities and differences in Galilean and Einstein's relativity. 50. Discuss the way in which Einstein's explanation of an electromagnetic wave is or is not scientific. 51. *Based on his Aristotelian inclinations and Platonic tendencies, discuss whether Copernicus would prefer the idea of a universe that ends in a big crunch or a universe that ends in a big freeze. 52. Discuss the reasons that galaxies beyond our reach might be worth studying. 53. *What are the three cosmological revolutions and how are they similar/different? 54. How is cosmology affected by the changing of the telescope throughout the years? 55. *What is Hubble's Law? And what contributions did Hubble's discoveries have on the cosmological world? 56. Both Newton and Aristotle's theories were proven wrong. Who were scientists harder on, Newton or Aristotle? 57. What are Newton’s 3 laws of motion? 58. What two qualities does Newton attribute to the universe and who inspired each quality? 59. *Name and describe the 3 varieties of geometry and the properties associated with them. 60. *What is the principle upon which Einstein’s theory of general relativity is predicated? 61. Explain Newton's understanding of planetary notion, keeping in mind both the motions of the planets and the forces that cause them to behave like this. 62. Compare and contrast Euclidean, spherical, and hyperbolic geometries. 63. *What do Olbers’ paradox, the Cepheid variable, and the Doppler Effect tell us about the movement of objects in the universe? 64. Explain Maxwell's theory of electromagnetism and then compare it to Einstein's two absolute principles. 65. *Einstein and Newton have different distinctions on relativity. What are they? Are they similar? 66. What is Newton’s universal law of gravitation? 67. *What was the final conclusion to the “fuzzy objects” Charles Messier discovered in the stars and which new questions did it lead to? 68. What is the standard ruler and standard candle? Period IV: The full historical span of cosmological speculation 69. *Throughout the course, we’ve explored the differences between good scientific theories and bad ones. Give an example of each, and explain why one was good while the other was not. 70. *Before Newton published his Law of Universal Gravitation, Kepler had arrived at a concept called the “anima motrix.” Explain what this was, and why it was wrong. 71. We’ve discussed and read about several instances of major disagreement between leading scientists or cosmologists regarding new cosmological theories such as, but not limited to, the size of the universe, the proper scientific method, and the qualitative position of earth. Choose one important debate, explain the source of disagreement, and briefly defend each side. 72. *Many cosmological theories and their paths to acceptance have been called cosmological revolutions. Which three do you think were among the most revolutionary and why? th 73. Explain why the Ptolemaic model was adopted by the Church and became the most dominant cosmology until the 16 century? rd 74. Define and describe Kepler’s 3 Law that was formerly known as the Harmonic Law. 75. *Define Newtonian synthesis and how it related with planetary motion. 76. What is the formula between gravity, inertia, and describing the relationship to each other? 77. *Defend the main aspects of Aristotle's cosmology from the point of view of an ancient Greek philosopher. 78. *Consider the history of cosmological thought (as we have studied it) in light of the 4 cosmological questions given at the start of this course: temporal, spatial, compositional, and teleological. Have all 4 of these questions been explored simultaneously throughout history, or have certain shifts represented a focus on one area over the other three? Give specific examples. Lastly, how well are these questions presently being answered by modern cosmological thought? 79. *"No good scientist accepts a statement merely on faith..." (Alpha & Omega, p. 92) Based on what we have studied, how true or untrue is this statement? Give specific examples. 80. *Based on what we have seen regarding the accuracy/success of the theories we have studied, what are the key components of a good scientific theory? Should a theory be immediately discarded if it does not have these qualities? Offer examples explaining why or why not. 81. *Who will you definitely not invite to your birthday party: Tycho Brahe or Johannes Kepler? 82. Please elucidate the differences between "dark matter" and "the dark side." Refrain from overuse of the terms "jedi" and "force." 83. Considering the erroneous theories of Aristotle and Plato why is it that we still study them at such reverence today? 84. *What is parallax and how was it used to argue against heliocentrism? 85. *What was Tycho Brahe's cosmological mode and how did it differ from both Ptolemy's model and Copernicus' model? 86. What are the primary differences between Aristotle's laws of motion and Newton's? 87. *Why did the idea that planets must travel in circles last for so long? 88. From the singularity of the big bang to the present. Is there a theory that can explain everything? Would Einstein’s theory of relativity, quantum mechanics, or any other candidate best explain everything of the universe? 89. *"… the universe itself acts on us as a random, inefficient, and yet in the long run effective, teaching machine. …our way of looking at the universe has gradually evolved through a natural selection of ideas." — Stephen Weinberg We live in an in-between universe, where things change according to patterns or laws of nature. How have these laws that govern the universe affected our evolution and our culture? 90. How did the universe begin? The cosmic microwave background is much too smooth. If it was smoothed out by a sudden expansion of the universe, what caused the inflation? 91. What is the destiny of the universe? According to the second law of thermodynamics what will happen? 92. What is dark energy and dark matter? How do they fit in the theory of inflation?
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