*Abbreviations under the "Available" column: A = Available // NA = Not Available // R = Previously Registered // WL = Currently on the Wait List

The Origin of the Universe

Has the universe always existed or was it created from nothing? Is it finite or infinite in extent? Until the 1920s, scientists left these questions to religion and philosophy. Then Hubble found that the universe is expanding, as predicted by General Relativity. Now we know that, as far in the sky as our instruments can see, it all started 13.8 billion years ago with a Big Bang. But was there something before the Bang, and how did it come about?  We will discuss what is known, what is not, and what may be the ultimate limits of human ability to know, with readings from books by Stephen Hawking and from the web. This course will have more technical content than the average OLLI course. It will assume some familiarity with basic science and math, and focus on the development of evolving concepts of the universe.

Instructor Bio:

Born in Italy and trained as a theoretical physicist, Dr. Celli came to UVA in 1966, retired in 2003, and is now Professor Emeritus of Physics. Dr. Celli has done research on semiconductors, their surfaces, and gas-surface interactions, working also at research centers in Europe and Japan. He has taught advanced courses on General Relativity and Cosmology, as well as a first-year seminar on “The Origin of the Universe.”

Recommended Reading:

Hawking, Stephen. The Illustrated Brief History of Time, 1996. Hawking, Stephen and Leonard Mlodinow. The Grand Design, 2012. Carroll, Sean. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself, 2016.

Course Number Instructor Dates Day Time Location Available
B110 Vittorio Celli Nov 12, 19, 26, Dec 3, 10 Mo 1:00-2:30 p.m. Meadows Presbyterian Church WL

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