Checking date: 08/09/2022

Course: 2022/2023

Cosmology and Culture
Bachelor in Science, Technology and Humanities (Plan: 470 - Estudio: 374)

Coordinating teacher: MELENDEZ SANCHEZ, JUAN

Department assigned to the subject: Physics Department

Type: Compulsory
ECTS Credits: 6.0 ECTS


Requirements (Subjects that are assumed to be known)
Standard high-school general knowledge. Basic knowledge of physics and philosophy taught in the first year of this degree.
Understand the characteristics of mythical cosmologies and their differences with later cosmologies, elaborated within the philosophical and scientific framework. Distinguish between the different conceptions of the pre-Socratic philosophers about the origin and ultimate reality of the cosmos. Be able to explain how the cosmological two-sphere model was arrived at, starting with the rational interpretation of astronomical observations. Explain the subsequent developments of Greek astronomy, up to Ptolemy's synthesis, and its integration into the Aristotelian conception of the world. Understand the situation of astronomy at the beginning of the Renaissance, and the role played by Copernicus, Brahe and Kepler in the elaboration of the new heliocentric cosmology. Appreciate the impact of heliocentrism and the new conception of science that the Scientific Revolution on the culture of the time: how it affected the self-concept of humanity. Being able to describe the achievements of the two greatest figures of the Scientific Revolution, Galileo and Newton, in the field of science, astronomy, and scientific methodology. Being able to solve basic physics problems by applying their discoveries. Appreciate the impact of the Newtonian worldview, both in the concept of science and in the conception of the universe. Learn about the main scientists who built the worldview of classical physics throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. Understand the reasons for the crisis in the worldview of classical physics at the beginning of the 20th century. Distinguish the changes produced by quantum theory and by relativity. Be able to describe the main results of astronomical observation and their relationship with cosmological models. Appreciate the role of technology (in particular, the evolution of telescopes) in achieving these advances. Qualitatively understand contemporary ideas about the origin, structure and evolution of the universe. Appreciate the effect of these cosmological ideas on humanity's view of itself.
Skills and learning outcomes
Link to document

Description of contents: programme
1. From myth to logos: Thales of Miletus and his time 2. The birth of physical theory: the universe of the two spheres 3. Aristotle's cosmos 4. From antiquity to the modern era: astronomy vs cosmology. 5. The Copernican Revolution 6. Galileo: the birth of modern science 7. Newtonian cosmology. 8. The universe of classical physics: rise and fall 9. Relativistic cosmology. 10. Origin, structure and evolution of the universe: contemporary ideas.
Learning activities and methodology
TRAINING ACTIVITY Directed activity: 200 hours - 100 face-to-face supervised activity: 100 hours - 17 face-to-face Autonomous activity: 300 hours - 0 attendance TEACHING METHODOLOGIES · Master Classes · Cooperative learning · Text commentary · Classroom practices · Problem classes · Seminars
Assessment System
  • % end-of-term-examination 50
  • % of continuous assessment (assigments, laboratory, practicals...) 50

Basic Bibliography
  • CROWE, M. J.. Theories of the world - From antiquity to the copernican revolution. Dover. 2001
  • DRAKE, S. . Galileo. A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 2001
  • ELIZALDE, E.. The True Story of Modern Cosmology: Origins, Main Actors and Breakthroughs. Springer. 2021
  • FREELY, J.. Flame of Miletus: The Birth of Science in Ancient Greece (and How it Changed the World). I. B. Tauris. 2018
  • GARCÍA HOURCADE, J.L. Copérnico y Kepler. La rebelión de los astrónomos. Nivola. 2000
  • KOESTLER, A.. The sleepwalkers. . Arkana Penguin Book. 1989
  • KUHN, THOMAS S. The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought. Harvard University Press. 1992
  • MELÉNDEZ, J.. De Tales a Newton: ciencia para personas inteligentes. Ellago. 2013
  • ORDOÑEZ, J., NAVARRO, V., SANCHEZ RON. Historia de la Ciencia. Espasa. 2013
  • RIOJA, A., ORDÓÑEZ, J.. Teorías del Universo. Vol. I: De los pitagóricos a Galileo. Síntesis. 1999
  • RIOJA, A., ORDÓÑEZ, J.. Teorías del Universo. Vol. II: De Galileo a Newton. Síntesis. 1999
  • RIOJA, A., ORDÓÑEZ, J.. Teorías del Universo. Vol. III: De Newton a Hubble. Síntesis. 2006
  • ROSSI, P.. The Birth of Modern Science. Wiley-Blackwell. 2001
  • SAMBURSKY, S.. The Physical world of the greeks. Princeton University Press. 2016
Additional Bibliography
  • ARANA, J.. Materia, universo, vida. . Tecnos. 2001
  • BUTTERFIELD, H. . The Origins of Modern Science. Hassell Street Press. 2021
  • COHEN, BERNARD L.. The Birth of a New Physics. W. W. Norton & Company. 1985
  • GEROCH, R. General Relativity from A to B. University of Chicago Press. 1981
  • SOBEL, DAVA. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. Bloomsbury. 2007
  • WESTFALL, R.S. The Construction of Modern Science: Mechanisms and Mechanics. Cambridge University Press. 1978
  • WOOTTON, D.. The Invention of Science: A New History of the Scientific Revolution. Harper Perennial. 2016

The course syllabus may change due academic events or other reasons.