Physics 10240 : Elementary Cosmology

Professor John LoSecco
Office: 402A Nieuwland Science Hall
Email: losecco#AT#nd#DOT#edu
Phone: +1(574)631-6044
Office Hours: Schedule via Calendly
Canvas: SP22-PHYS-10240-01 Elementary Cosmology


Required Books:

Title Author Comment
Black Holes and Time Warps Kip Thorne A classic on relativity
Longing for the Harmonies Frank Wilczek and Betsy Devine An introduction to quantum concepts
Elementary Cosmology: From Aristotle's Universe to the Big Bang and Beyond James Kolata A survey of Big Bang cosmology


Course Grade will be determined by:

Requirement Portion of Grade Comment
Weekly Quizzes 25% Quizzes most Thursdays
Book Report 25% Due February 24
Mid Term Exam 25% March 3
Final Exam 25% April 29 - May 5, 2022

Spring 2022 Course Schedule

Note, there will be DVT presentations on February 27 and April 26.

Fall 2012 MidTerm Exam without Answers
Fall 2012 MidTerm Exam with Answers
Fall 2013 MidTerm Exam without Answers
Fall 2013 MidTerm Exam with Answers

Fall 2012 Final Exam without Answers
Fall 2012 Final Exam with Answers
Fall 2013 Final Exam without Answers
Fall 2013 Final Exam with Answers

PHYS 10240:  Elementary Cosmology Book Reports


The book report is due before or on Thursday February 24 submitted in Canvas. Late reports will be docked 10% per week. The report must follow these requirements.
If you would like to read and report on a book not on the list please check with me first.


Suggested Books for the Book Report:

Most of these can be found in the University Library

Book Author
Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe Singh, Simon
The World within the World Barrow
The Universe Next Door Chown
Parrallel Worlds Kaku
The Endless Universe Steinhardt
Hyperspace Kaku
Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos Overbye
About Time Davies
The Great Beyond Halpern
Warped Passages Randall
The Origin of the Universe Barrow
Facts and Speculations in Cosmology Narliker
Why Arnt Black Holes Black Hazen
Parrallel Worlds Kaku
Many Worlds in One Vilenkin, Alex
Our Cosmic Habitat Rees
Quintessence Kraus
Dark Side of the Universe Nicholson
Don't Know Much about the Universe Davis
Surfing through Hyperspace Pickover
Out of This world Webb
The Quantum World Polkinghorne
The Matter Myth Davies
The Afterglow of Creation Chown
Blind Watchers of the Sky Kolb
Symmetry and the Universe Lederman
Theism,Atheism and Cosmology Craig
The Accelerating Universe Livio
Parting the Cosmic Veil Lang
Gravities Fatal Attraction Begelman and Rees
The Infinite Cosmos Silk
The Search for Superstrings Gribbin
The Magic Furnace Chown
Beyond Einstein Kaku
Journey from the Center of the Sun Zirker
The Five Ages of The Universe Adams
The Little Book of the Big Bang Hogan
Fabric of the Cosmos Greene
The Quantum Zoo Chown
The Birth of Time Gribbin
Out of this World Webb
Death by Blackhole DeGrasse-Tyson
The Universe in a Nutshell Hawking
The Illustrated Brief History of Time Hawking
Calibrating the Cosmos Levin
Einsteins Universe Calder
Origins Degrasse-Tyson
Timeless Reality Stenger
At the Edge of the Universe Wright
Cosmology Revealed Glendenning
In Search of the Edge of Time Gribbin
Einsteins Greatest Blunder Goldsmith
The extravagant Universe Kirshner
Just Six Numbers Rees
Deep Down Things Schumm
Flatterland Stewart
The new world of Mr Tomkins Gamow
The Edge of Infinity Davies
Charm of Strange Quarks Barnett
Supersymmetry Kane
Introduction to Cosmology Bernstein
Foundations of Modern Cosmology Hawley
The Inflationary Universe Guth
The Elegant Universe Greene
The First Three Minutes Weinberg
The Last three Minutes Davies
The Big Bang Silk
The State of the Universe Ferriera, Pedro
The Big Bang Harding
Alpha to Omega Seife
Cosmological Enigmas Kidger
The New Cosmology Allen
Our Improbable Universe Mallary
On the Shores of the Unknown Silk
Before the Beginning Rees
Cosmic Enigmas Silk
The Bigger Bang Lidsey
Cosmology Coles, Peter
The Life of the Cosmos Smolin
Dark Cosmos Hooper
Cosmic Evolution Chaisson
Measuring the Cosmos Clark
How the Universe got its spots Levin
The Universe at Midnight Hooper
The Birth of Time Gribben
A short history of the Universe Silk
The Cosmic Landscape Susskind
The Privileged Planet Gonzalez and Richards
The Day We Found the Universe Bartusiak
Physics for Future Presidents Muller, Richard
A Briefer History of Time Hawking and Mlodinow
Our Place in the Universe Glendenning
Cosmology Revealed: Living inside the Cosmic Egg Fairall, Anthony
Appearance and Reality: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Physics Kosso, Peter
The Runaway Universe Goldsmith, Donald
Fermat's Last Theorem Singh, Simon
The Code Book Singh, Simon
The Nothing That Is: A Natural History of Zero Kaplan
The Music of the Primes du Sautoy, Marcus
A Mathematician's Apology G.H.Hardy


Physics 10240 Book Report

The following is a summary of the criteria by which the book report will be graded.
Each item is worth between 1 and 10 points toward a total score of 100 points.
Factors such as the difficulty of the book and clarity of the report will affect the scoring
of each section.

The book report should be exactly 3 pages long (single or 1.5 spacing) excluding the header sheet.  

All book reports must contain the following:

Header (One page)

  1. Title
  2. Author
  3. Publisher
  4. Number of Pages
  5. Abstract:  Summarize in one concise paragraph what the book is about and how it relates to the course.


  1. Who is the author (a short biography/bibliography)?
  2. Why should one pay attention to what this author says?
  3. What exactly is the author writing about?
  4. Why is this interesting (if it is)?
  5. How does the topic of the book relate to Physics 10240?


  1. Summarize the main points that the author is trying to make in each chapter.
  2. Summarize the main facts that the author cites to make these points.
  3. What (if anything) have you learned from this chapter that was not covered in class?


  1. Why is this book good (if it is good)?
  2. Which sections/chapters are the best?
  3. Why is this book bad (if it is bad)?
  4. Which sections/chapters are the worst?
  5. What is the level of the book (i.e., what is the target audience in your opinion).
  6. Would you or would you not recommend that this book stay on the reading list?
  7.  If the book was not on the reading list, do you recommend that it be added?


This is a brief list of usefull sites with Astronomical, Astrophysical or Cosmological Information. Some of these are just "pretty pictures", but many are actually full of information, at various technical levels. Some of these are out of date. If you find a broken link please let me know.

Astronomy Resources This is the best starting point if you want to branch out on your own.

Hubble Space Telescope Pictures Wonderful images of current research in Astronomy and Astrophysics. Each comes with a caption, and sometimes additional technical information.

The Messier Gallery A collection of images of objects in the Messier catalog.

The Supernova Cosmology Project at Berkely and Harvard

The Solar Neutrino Problem A page at the UC Riverside describing experimental and theoretical progress on what was one of the most important problems in physics.

COBE: The Cosmic Background Explorer The initial observations of the anisotropy in the cosmic microwave background.

WMAP: Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe Modern measurements of anisotropy in the universe as measured by the cosmic blackbody spectrum.

The Planck ESA satelite Planck is the current cosmic microwave satelite.

LIGO The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) project home page. This is a major effort to detect gravitational waves.

The Sounds of Pulsars This page has some recordings of pulsar "sounds". A suitably equipped workstation will allow you to listen to them.

National Radio Astronomy Observatory Home Page National Radio Astronomy Observatory including pointers to Green Bank, Kitt Peak and the VLA.

Radio Astronomy Home Page The Arecibo Radio Observatory.

Jodrell Bank Home Page University of Manchester, Jodrell Bank Radio Observatory.

Caltech Astronomy They operate Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory, Owens Valley Radio Observatory, Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, Chajnantor Observatory and the Big Bear Solar Observatory.

Berkeley Cosmology Group Cosmology at Berkeley. CMB anisotropy, Supernova Cosmology Project and more.

Black Holes and Neutron Stars Simulated trips to compact objects. Experience the effects of high gravitational fields. Good technical description.

The James Webb Space telescope The next generation space telescope

Stellar evolution of a high mass star A brief overview

Large Scale Structure Images of large scale structure from a number of red shift surveys.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy This site tries to help understand the difference between dark matter and dark energy.

Astrophysics The Astrophysics research group at Carnegie-Mellon University.

Extragalactic Radio Sources

Images of Radio Galaxies and Quasars

Electronic Textbook on Astronomy This is an interesting project at the University of Oregon to create electronic teaching tools for Astronomy. The links are useful, including some data for students to analyze.

A set of notes on Astronomy An Astronomy textbook on the Web.

John LoSecco( updated  December 2018