Black holes are the Universe's most extreme objects: they are so massive and compact that gravity bends space and time into a knot. The signature property of a black hole is that your can get in, but not out. In this first-year seminar, we discuss what is currently known about black holes, starting from Einstein's theories about space, time, and gravity, through the first observational evidence for black holes, to the latest images of the shadows cast by black holes taken with the largest telescopes on earth. This class is designed to bend your mind when figuring out why clocks run slower when approaching the edge of a black hole, what could be at the center of a black hole or even at the other side. At the same time, we will discuss the inner workings of the most advanced telescopes that astronomers have developed to study black holes, and the strategies astronomers employ to develop ever more sensitive instruments. Also expect a fair bit of astronomy in this class,
when we discuss how black holes form, when and how they grow, and which roles they play in cosmic eco-systems such as the Milky Way Galaxy. This first-year seminar adopts a flipped class/socratic discussion structure. The students are asked to read a wide variety of texts, including texts from the current literature, and to present and to discuss some of the material in class. The class assumes no background in math; at the same time, we will discuss some of the math that brings Einstein's theories of space and time to life.
Course Attributes: FYS; AS NSM; AS AN; FA NSM