ANUx: ANU-ASTRO1x: Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

School: ANUx
Course Code: ANU-ASTRO1x
Classes Start: 25 Mar 2014
Course Length: 10 weeks
Estimated effort: 3 hours per week


High school math and physics.

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ANUx: Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

Greatest Unsolved Mysteries of the Universe

Exploring the biggest mysteries of modern astrophysics.

About this Course

Despite spectacular recent progress, there is still a lot we don't know about our universe. We don't know why the Big Bang happened. We don't know what most of the universe is made of. We don't know whether there is life in space. We don't know how planets form, how black holes get so big, or where the first stars have gone. This course will take you through nine of the greatest unsolved problems of modern astrophysics. We can't promise you the answers, but we will explain what we do and don't know, and give you an up-to-date understanding of current research. This course is designed for people who would like to get a deeper understanding of these mysteries than that offered by popular science articles and shows. You will need reasonable high-school level Maths and Physics to get the most out of this course. This is the first of four ANUx courses which together make up the Australian National University's first year astrophysics program. It will be followed by courses on exoplanets, on the violent universe, and on cosmology.

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Course Staff

  • Brian Schmidt

    Brian Schmidt

    Brian Schmidt led the team that discovered dark energy – work which won him the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics. He is a Laureate Fellow and Distinguished Professor at the Australian National University. Raised in Montana and Alaska, USA, he obtained a PhD from Harvard before coming to Australia, where his passions include astrophysics and his vineyard in the hills near Canberra. Brian has won almost every possible award and distinction for his work - work that has revolutionised our understanding of the origin and fate of our universe. He is continuing his work using exploding stars to study the Universe, and is leading Australian National University's effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet through near infrared wavelengths.
  • Paul Francis

    Paul Francis

    Paul Francis is a prize-winning educator, science communicator and astrophysics researcher. He obtained a PhD from the University of Cambridge, has worked with NASA, and is well known for his work on the spectra of quasars. Famous for his unorthodox teaching style, his strange taste in waistcoats and for his discovery that some black holes are actually pink, he divides his time between astrophysics research and teaching. His research interests include comets, giant space blobs and hidden quasars. He has won many awards for both teaching and science communication. He is currently trying to work out why the tails of distant comets don’t point the direction they should.


High school math and physics.