- How did the atomic physicists rescue Darwin's theory of evolution from the criticism that not enough time was available for the slow process of evolution?
- What is "Planck's Principle" in the sociology of science? Give an example and a counter-example.
- What was Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin's discovery about the Sun, and how did it influence modern theories of the origin of the solar system.
- Identify: Viktor Safronov.
- Discuss the controversies about the age of the Earth from the 18th to mid-20th centuries and their relation to theories about biological evolution and radioactivity.
- What was Henrietta Leavitt's discovery about Cepheids and how did it influence modern theories of the universe?
- How did Hubble provide the basis for the expanding universe theory? What was one reason why he himself doubted the validity of that theory?
- What was Yukawa's explanation of the force between protons and neutrons, needed to hold the nucleus together? What discovery seemed to confirm his theory?
- Who were the three scientists who developed the Big Bang theory? What was the discovery that persuaded most astronomers to accept it?
- Discuss the validity of Lord Kelvin's statement about numerical measurement in the light of the history of science as presented in this course.
- What was the Steady State theory? How does its history pertain to Popper's Principle and Planck's Principle?
- Why did European and American scientists decide to develop an atomic bomb for the U.S. in the 1940s? Why did Heisenberg, who stayed in Germany, not develop an atomic bomb for Hitler?
- Prout's Hypothesis may be divided into two parts: (a) a basic assumption about the nature of matter, and (b) a prediction about properties of matter that can be determined by experiment. How valid are these two parts according to modern science?
- What episode in the first half of the 20th century suggested that the Law of Conservation of [Mass-]Energy had become so firmly established that no experiment could refute it? How did a later experiment vindicate confidence in the Law?
- Discuss the role of physical laws/theories and astronomical observations in the history of theories of the origin of the solar system from 1796 to 1980.
- Why or how does the sun shine, according to Hans Bethe?
- Identify: Lise Meitner.
- How did Maxwell's electromagnetic theory help save Britain from defeat by Hitler?
- Identify: J. Robert Oppenheimer.
- Discuss the question, "Why does the 6C12 nucleus have a resonance that allows it to be easily formed by fusion of three α-particles?," without using any information beyond what is in the Physics text. Is it a scientific question? Would it undermine our current view of the world to consider it a scientific question?
- Give an example of an opposed pair of thematic concepts and describe how scientists historically have oscillated between the two members of that pair.
- Explain the difference between "themata" and "style of thought" in science; give one example of a thema that belonged to two different styles of thought.
- Who was the first person to "see" an atom? When and how did he do it?
- Identify: Georges Lemaitre.
- Discuss the contribution of the "hypothetical modeling" style of thought to progress in scientific understanding of the real world.
- Why was the apparent uniformity of the cosmic background radiation a serious theoretical problem? How did Alan Guth propose to solve it?
- What is the anthropic principle? What problem does it claim to solve?
Top of Page