CBU, Winter 2012
Professor: Andrew Reynolds
Class times: Tues & Thurs 2:30-3:45 Room: CE310
Office CC219 email:

This course deals with topics in the history and philosophy of the natural sciences. Lectures will be organized around two main questions and the various responses entertained over the history of science. The first concerns humanity's place in the universe. We used to believe that we were at the center. But where are we now according to modern astronomy and cosmology? The second  concerns the place of humanity with respect to what has been called the "evolutionary ladder." Humans have typically considered themselves to be at the "top" of any ordering of living things. But does modern evolutionary biology give us any justification in thinking that humans are "better" than any other species? In discussing these questions we will look at the ideas of Aristotle, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Einstein and many other important thinkers. Along the way we will also consider the questions, "What is science?" and "What makes it different from other human activities and modes of thinking?" The social, political, and ethical ramifications of science will be discussed throughout. We will see that scientific ideas and theories go through an evolution of their own, with very interesting links to individual personalities and social and political events.

(Lecture notes are here-- but not required for Winter term 2012 )

Astronomy & Physics

View Images of the Solar System

View Images from the Hubble Space Telescope

See an excellent demonstration of the powers of ten

180 FAQS about the Big Bang

Sky and Telescope Magazine

Slides from Class

Evolution & Genetics

FAQS about Evolution

Darwin's Works On-Line

Human Genome Project

Council for Responsible Genetics

Links on ID and Evolution

Darwin and the Barnacle (ppt slides)

Darwin's Theory of Evolution (ppt slides)

Evidence of Evolution (ppt slides)

Reaction to Darwin (ppt slides)

Myths & Misconceptions re. Evolution

Plate Tectonics Video

Sample Exam Essay Questions

Essay Grading Criteria
CBU Library Resources Page for Nat. Sci 120

Selected Bibliography

Second Term

Writing assignment ....10%
Midterm Test.............10%

Final Exam................ 20% 

Class participation.....10%

Stott, Rebecca. 2003. Darwin and the Barnacle: the story of one tiny creature and history's most spectacular scientific breakthrough. New York: W.W. Norton.

Shubin, Neil. 2009. Your Inner Fish: a journey into the 3.5 billion year history of the human body. New York: Vintage.

Notes available on line through links above.
Handouts provided in class.
Lecture material.

Regular attendance in class is expected and strongly recommended.
There will be no supplementary exams.
This outline subject to change with sufficient notice.

Last Updated Jan.17, 2012