The physics department is bringing back two space-related classes in the fall. Cosmology, taught by Assistant Professor of Physics Ryan Lang, will cover the history of the universe. Associate Professor of Physics Paul Hosmer will teach Meteorology, the study of weather.
Neither course has been taught for several years. The department is bringing back the courses to encourage an appreciation for the subjects.
“We don’t know what 96 percent of the universe is,” Lang said. “So we’ve made up words for them — dark matter, dark energy.”
Lang said the class will be accessible to everyone, not just physics majors. The minimum math requirement is high school algebra.
“You don’t get this kind of thing in a standard physics course,” Lang said.
The class will focus on astrophysics, particle physics, and theoretical physics, as well as gravitational waves, a focus of Lang’s.
“I’m most excited to talk about my gravitational waves research. That’s what I’m working on,” Lang said.
Physics Department Chair Ken Hayes said he last taught a cosmology course in fall of 2015.
“Given the significant exposure to physics and astronomy offered in the new physics core course, I hope that a significant fraction of the students whom have taken Physics 100 would be stimulated to consider taking more physics at the introductory level,” Hayes said in an email. “Both Cosmology and Meteorology are offered at a level similar to Physics 100, so all Hillsdale College students should find the courses accessible and hopefully very interesting.”
In addition to Cosmology, Meteorology will also be returning in the fall, taught by Hosmer.
“I think a lot of people are naturally interested in meteorology,” said Hosmer, adding that he wants the class to be “studying what happens in the atmosphere in a quantitative way.”
The class will study satellites, space weather, and Mars travel, among other subjects.
“It’s very purposefully for the general audience,” Hosmer said.
Junior biology major Emily Holtyn said she is taking the class next semester because she has always been interested in weather.
“Weather just fascinates me,” Holtyn said. “I wanted to be a storm chaser for a while.”
Hosmer said the class will also include some outdoor observation.
“This is the beauty of physics,” Hosmer said. “You can learn a lot from the quantitative aspects, but, on the other hand, there’s an aspect of nature anyone can understand qualitatively.”