This assignment is meant to be engaging and thought-provoking rather than technically challenging. I don’t want any submissions to exceed 2-3 printed pages. I am completely relaxed about word count, format, and so on, and don’t care about how you format any references or sources you might provide – just make sure that they are coherent enough for me to track down if I want to.
Although we are into the age of computers, I will require that these assignments be delivered to me on paper by the end of the day, Friday Oct 25th. (This saves me having to print out more than two hundred reports, so that I can later return them to you with annotated corrections and remarks. Past experience has shown that this can gobble up enormous amounts of my time.) The assignments can be brought to class, or delivered to the Main Office (Room 205, Stirling Hall). The front page of the assignment must have your student number written in large bold legible form on the top right, like so:
Student # 12345678 (or whatever your student number is)
If everyone uses precisely this style, I can sort them out very simply to be sure I have received submissions from everyone.
Some of you will want to submit electronic versions as well, so that you can provide me with direct internet links. (Indeed, if you are going to refer to a link that I really need to look at to assess the report, I insist that you give me both an electronic version and the paper copy. I do not want to have to transcribe weblink addresses into my browser from your typed or hand-written pages!)
If you are submitting an electronic version as well, please sent it as an email attachment with a filename of exactly the following sort: P15-ASSIGN1-12345678.doc where again you put your eight-digit student number in place of the “12345678.” (The filename extension may not be .doc, of course, depending on what sort of file you are submitting.) Send this in a message with a subject line that says exactly and only P15-ASSIGN1
DO NOT bother putting any consequential text in the body of the message itself. It’s okay to if you want to say “here you are” or “have a nice day,” but I won’t be keeping the messages, just the attachments, so be sure that ALL your work and any important commentary shows up there.
Apologies for being so fussy about this, but given the numbers we really need some way of making the handling of all these assignments as efficient as possible. Thanks in advance for your cooperation.
For the assignment itself, there are three options, depending on your tastes and interests. You need to do one of the following:
If you are computer-savvy (or perhaps a real ‘nerd’), please take some time to search for interesting astronomical realizations and animations on the web – tools that are meant to educate and inform you. As you have seen, I like to use this sort of resource in lectures to help people visualize what is going on. My problem is that I can’t keep up with all the websites that are out there and constantly being developed, and I’m sure that I am missing some excellent ones!
Choose an astronomical topic, or even a topic in fundamental physics, that interests you, and do a “Google”, “Youtube”, or any other search you like to track down such a resource. (Please restrict yourself to the subject matter of the course – don’t, for example, spend time ferreting out UFO sites, science fiction, and so on – but otherwise be as free-thinking as you wish!) I am looking for sites that would be appropriate for adults like yourselves, not those that are intended for public-school children, say. I would be interested not just to know the location of any site(s) you find, but also your assessment of their usefulness, clarity, and so on – that is a central part of the assignment.
Note that I particularly want to know about dynamic, active sites – preferably with