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SAGE

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Stellar and Global Evolution

SAGE syllabus 2021-0210

Thematic Interpretation of Stellar and Global Evolution

The National Academy of Sciences says that the role of science is to provide plausible natural explanations of natural phenomena. Astrophysicist Eric Chaisson (author of the book Cosmic Evolution) asks how islands of complexity can exist for long periods of time in an otherwise sea of chaos. The short answer is that when energy flows, complexity grows.

The cosmic and global evolution project conducts secondary research on the composition, structure, and evolutionary processes and history of the Earth and the universe from the Big Bang to big brains and artificial intelligence. The project organizes and hosts inspirational special events, designs educational models and games, and maintains a website that supports courses on advanced topics. The focus should be on the sequence of historical events and underlying physical processes themselves rather than the scientific methodologies and evidence used to discover nature’s secrets. More information on the project purpose and plans is at https://evolution.calpoly.edu/purpose.

The upper division course on advanced topics in stellar and global evolution will focus on secondary research, analysis and synthesis, thematic interpretation, and science communication.

Students will study cosmic evolution and Dr. Sam Ham’s principles of thematic interpretation. Students will participate in cosmic evolution events and presentations, and evaluate related YouTube and other online educational videos. Students will generate questions and plausible explanations for the cosmic evolution website using Wikipedia and other educational resources and by contacting experts as needed. Students will practice the lessons discussed in David Epstein’s book, Range: Why generalists triumph in a specialized world, and will gain experience in cross training and interdisciplinary scholarly efforts.

Students will study visualization, animation, recording, and sharing tools like PowerPoint, NetLogo, QuickTime, website video embedding, and YouTube channel. The guiding principle is that, as statistician George Box said, “All models are wrong but some are useful.” Students may develop simulation codes, simple computer models, and educational games.

Students will develop and present well-organized, entertaining, and educational thematic interpretations of cosmic evolution that provide plausible natural explanations of what nature does. Labs will provide students with opportunities to participate in quarterly events and to develop educational resources for the evolution website, poster displays, indoor and outdoor signs, public talks, and courses in astronomy, Earth sciences, biology, and/or other natural sciences.

The syllabus may include the composition, structure, and evolutionary processes and history of the:

 

  1. expanding universe: The expanding universe and its particles evolve due to the gravitational influence of matter and energy. Big Bang, inflationary era, radiation-dominated era, matter-dominated era, dark-energy-dominated era. Particles evolve due to nuclear and electromagnetic interactions. Milestones include massive particle decay, antimatter annihilation, proton and neutron reactions, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and energy loss by photons and neutrinos.
  2. cosmic web: The cosmic web forms a large scale structure due to gravitational influences. Tiny quantum fluctuations in density and temperature grow. Dark matter dominates, but cannot radiate energy away, whereas ordinary matter radiates energy away. Lower density regions of space expand more rapidly than high density regions, so lower density regions get less dense and higher density regions get denser. Later dark energy drives expansion.
  3. Milky Way: Our galaxy has a dark matter halo, interstellar medium where stars are born and their remains go when they die, a stellar halo, thick and a thin stellar disks, a central bulge, and a supermassive black hole. Gravitational, electromagnetic, and strong and weak nuclear forces influence galaxy formation and evolution.
  4. stars and stardust: Stars and stardust form and evolve due to gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear processes. Galactic matter facilitates star formation by gravitationally confining gas and dust. Self-gravitating gas clouds radiate energy to form bound self-gravitating stars. Stellar opacity traps heat enabling thermonuclear fusion to synthesize elements and generate photons that stabilize star structure. Core collapse supernovas, neutron star mergers, dying low mass stars, and exploding dwarf stars enrich the interstellar medium with massive elements through nuclear processes like alpha and proton capture, carbon, oxygen, and silicon burning, and rapid and slow neutron capture.
  5. Sun and Jupiter: Stars and gas giant planets form and evolve due to gravitational and electromagnetic processes. The interstellar medium in our galaxy that was enriched by supernova explosions enabled our Sun and its planets to form. Before Jupiter could become a gas giant, it slowly accreted a massive core of rock and ice aided by its orbit beyond the Sun’s frost line. Once formed, the core rapidly captured a massive hydrogen and helium gas envelope which has been cooling for billions of years.
  6. solid Earth and Moon: The solid Earth and its Moon co-evolved following a giant planet impact that turned Earth into a donut shaped synestia which condensed into the Earth and its exceptional Moon. The Moon receded over time due to tidal interactions, but its tidal influence on Earth may have been critical to the origin of life on Earth.
  7. climate of Venus and Earth: The extremely high surface temperature of Venus is the same from its Equator to its poles and throughout its 1400 hour night. Earth’s atmosphere and climate evolved due to sunlight, the influence of oceans, biological and biogeochemical processes, and interior outgassing. The tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation is critical to providing a stable habitat for life on Earth.
  8. molecules of life and metabolism: Molecules and metabolism are the building blocks of life. Organic molecules that form in space are transported to planets by meteorites. Sunlight, thermal energy sources, and water cycles enable building blocks to evolve. Prebiotic building blocks of life form and evolve into proto-cells due to biogeochemical processes. Single celled organisms diversify and evolve due to genetic variations and natural selections. Molecules, metabolisms, and membranes diversify and evolve. Complex cells form and evolve into complex organisms due to endosymbiosis and other relationships.
  9. geobiosphere: The geobiosphere evolves due to biological and biogeochemical processes. Earth and life evolve due to extraterrestrial impacts, interior outflows of energy and matter that cause volcanoes and earthquakes, sunlight, weathering by atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biogeochemical processes. Microbial ecosystems co-evolve with Earth’s oceans and atmospheres.
  10. biological and artificial intelligence: Biological and artificial intelligence evolve, possibly along with consciousness and free will. Cells respond to chemical stimuli and then to the flow of charged particles leading to neurons and biological neural networks, sensory inputs, big brains, tool use, and artificial intelligence.

 

This SAGE template outlines a typical webpage based on the principles of thematic interpretation. Each of the first four blocks consisting of four accordions. Each block may be the basis of a ten minute PowerPoint talk by a different speaker on a project team. Additional information may be included in the fifth block of accordions.

universe

1 expanding universe

The expanding universe and its particles evolve due to the gravitational influence of matter and energy. Big Bang, inflationary era, radiation-dominated era, matter-dominated era, dark-energy-dominated era. Particles evolve due to nuclear and electromagnetic interactions. Milestones include massive particle decay, antimatter annihilation, proton and neutron reactions, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and energy loss by photons and neutrinos.

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2 cosmic web

The cosmic web forms a large scale structure due to gravitational influences. Tiny quantum fluctuations in density and temperature grow. Dark matter dominates, but cannot radiate energy away, whereas ordinary matter radiates energy away. Lower density regions of space expand more rapidly than high density regions, so lower density regions get less dense and higher density regions get denser. Later dark energy drives expansion.

 

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3 Milky Way Galaxy

Our galaxy has a dark matter halo, interstellar medium where stars are born and their remains go when they die, a stellar halo, thick and a thin stellar disks, a central bulge, and a supermassive black hole. Gravitational, electromagnetic, and strong and weak nuclear forces influence galaxy formation and evolution.

Back to top

4 stars and stardust

Stars and stardust form and evolve due to gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear processes. Galactic matter facilitates star formation by gravitationally confining gas and dust. Self-gravitating gas clouds radiate energy to form bound self-gravitating stars. Stellar opacity traps heat enabling thermonuclear fusion to synthesize elements and generate photons that stabilize star structure. Core collapse supernovas, neutron star mergers, dying low mass stars, and exploding dwarf stars enrich the interstellar medium with massive elements through nuclear processes like alpha and proton capture, carbon, oxygen, and silicon burning, and rapid and slow neutron capture.
 

solar system

5 Sun and Jupiter

Stars and gas giant planets form and evolve due to gravitational and electromagnetic processes. The interstellar medium in our galaxy that was enriched by supernova explosions enabled our Sun and its planets to form. Before Jupiter could become a gas giant, it slowly accreted a massive core of rock and ice aided by its orbit beyond the Sun’s frost line. Once formed, the core rapidly captured a massive hydrogen and helium gas envelope which has been cooling for billions of years.

6 solid Earth and Moon

The solid Earth and its Moon co-evolved following a giant planet impact that turned Earth into a donut shaped synestia which condensed into the Earth and its exceptional Moon. The Moon receded over time due to tidal interactions, but its tidal influence on Earth may have been critical to the origin of life on Earth.

7 climate of Venus and Earth

The extremely high surface temperature of Venus is the same from its Equator to its poles and throughout its 1400 hour night. Earth’s atmosphere and climate evolved due to sunlight, the influence of oceans, biological and biogeochemical processes, and interior outgassing. The tilt of the Earth’s axis of rotation is critical to providing a stable habitat for life on Earth.

 

bonus 1: geochemical history of Mars

new24

 

Earth's geobiosphere

8 molecules of life and metabolism

Molecules and metabolism are the building blocks of life. Organic molecules that form in space are transported to planets by meteorites. Sunlight, thermal energy sources, and water cycles enable building blocks to evolve. Prebiotic building blocks of life form and evolve into proto-cells due to biogeochemical processes. Single celled organisms diversify and evolve due to genetic variations and natural selections. Molecules, metabolisms, and membranes diversify and evolve. Complex cells form and evolve into complex organisms due to endosymbiosis and other relationships.

 

9 geobiosphere

The geobiosphere evolves due to biological and biogeochemical processes. Earth and life evolve due to extraterrestrial impacts, interior outflows of energy and matter that cause volcanoes and earthquakes, sunlight, weathering by atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biogeochemical processes. Microbial ecosystems co-evolve with Earth’s oceans and atmospheres.

 

10 biological and artificial intelligence

Biological and artificial intelligence evolve, possibly along with consciousness and free will. Cells respond to chemical stimuli and then to the flow of charged particles leading to neurons and biological neural networks, sensory inputs, big brains, tool use, and artificial intelligence.

 

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bonus 2: origin of species and evolution of ecosystems

The origin of species is closely related to the evolution of ecosystems.

 

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more bonus topics

particle evolution: photons, neutrinos, dark matter, baryons, dark energy

newb3

 

 

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interstellar medium and intergalactic medium

newb4

 

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supergiant stars and supernovas

newb5

 

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white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes

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additional information

animations and illustrations

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simulations and models

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Wikipedia articles

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more resources

more videos

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