Big Questions in Science
Developments in science and technology have an important impact on the dynamics of our society. This course gives an introduction to the crucial turning points in our scientific view on nature. These turning points will act as nodes in a comprehensive overview of the natural sciences and their interrelationship, along with the crucial experiments and the theoretical paradigm shifts they caused.
This course aims to provide a connection between various natural sciences, such as physics, astrophysics, chemistry and Darwinian and molecular biology. It is an integrated approach in which different perspectives are exploited: the distance scales, the phenomena, the disciplines, the turning points and their impact and also the history of the universe where the whole structural hierarchy of the physical universe - from quarks to humans - was built up. Subjects such as quantum mechanics, astrophysics, evolution and molecular biology are central to the course. In addition, scientific approaches and methodology, the history of science and the philosophy of science will also be discussed.
This course introduces you to exciting ideas at the forefront of scientific research and their deep roots, developing the attitude characteristic of a scientific approach to the world. As the course emphasises the cultural dimensions of the natural sciences, it may also serve as a starting point for a critical dialogue between the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, which is of great importance in our modern highly technological society.
Several site-visits are also planned in order to introduce you to state-of-the-art science labs and institutions in and outside the University of Amsterdam and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.