Individual Topics


We will do ONE set of individual topics.  Tell me your topic no later than end of class Sept 18.


Although there is some presentation this is essentially an exercise to convey what you learned by writing. That is why we have a critique/feedback portion. It also gives you a chance to help each other by giving the feedback.


It starts with you researching and writing about six pages on an aspect of the topic you found interesting and that you understood.  If you want to include pictures and graphics fine, but there must be six written pages. Then your effort will be submitted to me electronically by 8PM Friday Sept 28. I need all of the papers by then because I need to ship your paper to your classmates for review and the reviews need to be done by class time Oct 2! Submission on time will get you 2 points.

In order to encourage you to submit early or on time you will be docked .5 points for every day late. On the flip side you can get .25 per day extra credit for every day early up to 2 points.  That is if you submit your paper on Sept 24 you will get 3 points =2 + 4days x .25.  The submission points are separate from the two points for the quality of the rough draft.  An additional incentive is that I will set up the review groups as the papers arrive so the sooner you get a paper in the more time you will have to review others papers.


NOTE in order to give you time to write the paper and do a good job you can pick a topic as soon as you read this. Moreover, we not have a regular class on October 25.  I will show up at 11am as usual and will be available for questions. 


You will come to class on Oct 2 (#1) and present a one minute summary and take suggestions such as what else the class might like to know. When we are finished with your one minute talks we will break into groups for a thorough review of your paper.


Your written draft will be sent to two other class members for them to critique and you will get two drafts (one each) from them.  You will write a written critique of their papers, send an electronic version of the critiques to me and bring your paper and the critiques to (class#2). You will exchange critiques and orally tell them what you have tried to do.  They will orally talk about what you could do better.  Then you will switch roles.  You need to take note of the critiques both written and oral.


You will incorporate all the feedback and write a polished copy of your work.  I suspect this will be longer than the original draft. Submit it to me electronically and present it at class #2 or #3 or #4.  Expect to put almost as much work in your revisions as you did in your rough draft!



After your presentation you will respond to a questionnaire about your individual project.


You will be graded on: the rough draft (2) and short presentation (1); your critiques of the other papers (2); your presentation (2), your final written draft (3), the questionnaire (1).


Beginning List of Individual topics. [Add your own if you would like. NOT on Gravity, General Relativity, Black Hole Theory, Cosmology or Extraterrestrial Life]. DO NOT choose a topic you did for either of your short talks. Not a topic inside the Solar System.



Stellar evolution from the Main Sequence up to (but not including) Stellar Death

Stellar Death -Planetary Nebulae [GREG]

Stellar Death -Supernovae 

Neutron Stars/Pulsars


Binary stars - ordinary

Binary Stars -Cataclysmic Variables

Binary Stars - X-ray Binaries


Black holes - stellar sized, observational evidence


Gravitational Radiation - Theory and Observation [KOHLMAN]


String Theory  [OZZY]

Information theory and the holographic theory of the universe and black holes

The arrow of time

Quantum mechanics [ANDY]

[Note:  The four topics above are quite challenging to learn and present. Yet over the years there have been some terrific presentations.]


Dark Matter: the particles, detection [JOSH]

Dark Matter: astronomical observations [ALANA]

Dark Energy [LUKE]


Exoplanets: detection [MAGGIE]

Exoplanets: theory of formation

Exoplanets: planetary properties [MATT]


Ordinary Galaxies

Dwarf Galaxies [GAVIN]

Galactic Evolution [MAX]

Quasars [SAM]

Active Galactic Nuclei as Black holes


Formation of the First Stars [CAROLINE]


Gamma Ray Bursters