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Big Bang theory for beginners? [Mar. 14th, 2008|10:34 pm]
Physics Chicks

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[lindsay40k]
My grandmother's formal education in astronomy and physics was extremely basic (and limited to what we knew 60 years ago), and she wants to educate herself about the Big Bang. Can anybody recommend a podcast that would be helpful? Everything I've found that is either clearly aimed at children or seems too jargon heavy. Something like Bill Bryson would be good?
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[User Picture]From: tayefeth
2008-03-15 12:41 am (UTC)
Did you think AstronomyCast was too jargon heavy? (One reason I ask is because I'm thinking of using it for a conceptual astronomy class for low to moderate achieving high school students...)
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[User Picture]From: lindsay40k
2008-03-15 04:24 pm (UTC)
I did give it a try, episode 5 to be precise, and it did strike me that in the absence of some animation the jargon would be lost on somebody not accustomed to the concepts. The baking analogy would certainly work on her, though it'll take a very good teacher to explain how 3D space expands. I might put it on her iPod after she's had a go at Bill Bryson.

To give an example of what would be suitable, when she asked a few years ago what stars are, my explanation was like this:

"You know hydrogen and helium, yeah? Well, when you slam four atoms of hydrogen together hard enough, you get an atom of helium and a LOT of energy. And what a star is is a giant ball of hydrogen that's extremely hot, and that's what the sun is as well. When something's hot, it means its atoms are vibrating very fast, so this is happening all the time in the sun and the stars."
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[User Picture]From: tayefeth
2008-03-15 07:47 pm (UTC)
Good points.
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[User Picture]From: nodyl
2008-03-16 07:52 pm (UTC)
Do you get cable? The history channel and discovery channel do a ton of astronomy and cosmology specials, usually (I think) aimed at adults who know little or nothing about science. Sometimes the way they word things are a little iffy, but they are mostly okay. Their specialists are good too. One time I actually saw a particle physicist I had met at USC.
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