Understanding Our Universe


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Go back to The following videos are real-world examples that can be Figure 1.

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How does this bias their ability to example of a ridiculous slippery slope vote for look at this prediction scientifically? Johnson or there will be atomic war. Brown was referring to this when he watch? South Carolina.

Mathematics and understanding our universe – Nazim Açar

You can view this video at 3. Postactivity Debriefing 4. Suppose we call all Pluto-like things a planet. Many Recognizing and understanding logical fallacies are crucial astronomers are constantly searching the skies for parts of scientific thinking.


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Enforce this by hav- add one or two more. In a few years there might ing students write a brief reflection 5 minutes or less on be 20 planets, or , or more! The list will just one or both of the following writing prompts: keep growing. If nothing else, this is very imprac- 1. As you 2. What type of fallacy much about the formation of our Solar System is it?

Consider Ceres: It was predicted to be a planet until Evaluating the News astronomers discovered that it was just one exam- 1. When Pluto was first discovered, astronomers ple of a huge sea of similar objects. But because no other planet is part of a belt of similar as more information was obtained, we realized objects. Thus, Ceres was demoted. Essentially the that it did not share many common characteristics same thing happened with Pluto, except the test with the other planets that is, its size, mass, and involved mass.

However, as we discovered more Local Group—Virgo Supercluster—universe. Use Pluto-sized objects, we had to decide whether to Figures 1. The scientific method involves skepticism 2.

Science is not a belief system but a process of and testing, and you can only test something that skepticism and testing that leads us to constantly could be proved wrong. Here, distance is growing smaller in time, gated. When we find that long-held ideas are wrong, meaning the car is approaching.

Radius of Earth—light-minute—distance from center to the universe. Each model was correct at the Earth to Sun—light-hour—radius of Solar System— time, given the data we had available. But our model light-year. Use Figure 1. Its age. Figure 1. You have to make the material to form You have to Thus the car elements d , then the stars blow up to spread those is slowing down. But the distance is increasing with elements around a , and then the gas has to collect time, so the car is moving away also.

Conceptual Questions See Figure 1.


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  • Answers will look like Figure 1. Differences in Answers will vary.

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    For example, the distance from along and prove it wrong. All you can do is disprove the Sun to Neptune is equivalent to the time needed something. True: We build our understanding by watching and About minutes. This is the amount of time it takes explaining patterns. This is the amount of time it takes tion. False: Scientists never stop testing a theory, as it is Only hydrogen and helium with perhaps a trace just our best explanation at the time.

    A better one amount of lithium and beryllium were created in can always come along! Heavier elements such as carbon, True: Astronomers use a variety of scientific oxygen, nitrogen, and iron are manufactured in the instruments that are used in many different fields interiors of massive stars. At least one generation beyond astronomy. Therefore, because all the one of the billions of stars in our galaxy, which is one heavy elements in our bodies were originally man- of the billions of galaxies in the universe.

    Falsifiable means that something can be tested and and a very small amount of lithium and beryllium. Some examples of nonfalsifiable phenomena, however as we learn more, sometimes ideas might include religious beliefs such as Jesus is these explanations fail to explain all our observations Messiah , political views such as less government adequately or they are proved to be false.

    Our under- is better , and emotional statements such as love standing of the universe changes as we learn more. Students may have a wide variety of An example is how we first observed the Sun moving these and other ideas, but all sacred cows are usually around Earth and had believed Earth to be the cen- considered to be nonfalsifiable by the people hold- ter of the universe. Then we understood that Earth ing those beliefs. Falsifiable ideas include cause and moves around the Sun but believed the Sun to be the effect coffee puts hair on your chest and logic if center of the universe.

    A theory is generally understood to mean an idea Problems a person has, whether or not there is any proof, Setup: As a rough estimate, 1 meter is 1 yard or, as evidence, or way to test it. A scientific theory is an there are 3 feet in 1 yard, 1 foot is about 0. A hypothesis is an idea that might explain some Review: The height of an average person is physical occurrence.

    A theory is a hypothesis that has 5 to 6 feet, or about 1. Then we will convert two fields need to be carefully considered to recon- between distance, rate, and time with distance 5 cile this discrepancy. Or if I call the time As Review: One timeblock is 2 minutes, so 10 time- we improved that calibration, we found different blocks are 20 minutes, which I originally found.

    In Setup: We need our assumptions of speed.

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    A scientific with gas, eating, and restroom breaks. We also need to relate distance, rate, and time this is the best understanding of nature that our with the formula distance equals rate times time, current knowledge and technology supports. Over or d 5 vt. Depending upon the generality of will take 25 times longer, or 1, hours. Because the horoscopes, students may provide a wide array there are 24 hours in a day, the car takes For general statements, 5 2.

    For a very specific horoscope, we expect Review: In car-hours, it would take This is close to 48 hours, or 2 car- dents regardless of his or her astrological sign. In any days. By foot, it would take 1, foot-hours, or event, if astrology accurately reflected some natural 51 foot-days. There are 12 months in and only one horoscope each day that describes his a year, so this would take 1. Instead, we will use ratios. Students should perform Solve: a If light takes 8 minutes to reach Earth, this experiment and be honest with themselves then it takes 8 3 2 5 16 minutes to go twice as far.

    Pluto is 40 times farther from the Sun, so light takes It just shows how close the Moon is and how and talk about the weather.

    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe
    Understanding Our Universe Understanding Our Universe

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