Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Physics and Astrophysics

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Understanding the Universe: An Introduction to Physics and Astrophysics


Intended for undergraduate non-science majors, satisfying a general education requirement or seeking an elective in natural science, this is a physics text, but with the emphasis on topics and applications in astronomy. The perspective is thus different from most undergraduate astronomy courses: rather than discussing what is known about the heavens, this text develops the principles of physics so as to illuminate what we see in the heavens. The fundamental principles governing the behaviour of matter and energy are thus used to study the solar system, the structure and evolution of stars, and the early universe. The first part of the book develops Newtonian mechanics towards an understanding of celestial mechanics, while chapters on electromagnetism and elementary quantum theory lay the foundation of the modern theory of the structure of matter and the role of radiation in the constitution of stars. Kinetic theory and nuclear physics provide the basis for a discussion of stellar structure and evolution, and an examination of red shifts and other observational data provide a basis for discussions of cosmology and cosmogony.

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