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Physical Science 101

Student Resources | Syllabus | Grading | Learning Outcomes

    Dates          TopicText Reference
Fri August 25th
Meeting One
Overview of the Course, Syllabus, Grading Policy, Zoom Etiquette, Technological Skills
Lecture One: Introduction to Earth Science
What is Earth Science? Earth's Spheres. Deep Time. Scales of Measurement. Earth's Systems. The Nature of Scientific Inquiry, The Scientific Method
Rock of the Day: Granite
Book of the Day: The Story of Earth by Robert Hansen
Chapter 1


Fri September 1st
Meeting Two
Lecture Two: Matter and Minerals
Definition, Atomic Structure, Properties, Abundance, Mining
Chapter 2
Lecture Three: Rocks; Materials of the Solid Earth
The Rock Cycle, Igneous, Metamorphic, Sedimentary, Ores
Rock of the Day: Amethyst
Book of the Day: The Story of the Earth in 25 Rocks by Donald Prothero
Chapter 3
Fri September 8th
Meeting Three
Lecture Four: Plate Tectonics
Continental Drift, Plate Boundaries, Hot Spots, Mechanisms
Chapter 4
Lecture Five: Earthquakes and Earth's Interior
Faults, Foreshocks and Aftershocks, Seismology, Scales, Tsunamis, Subsidence, Earth's Layers
Rock of the Day: Blue Schist
Book of the Day: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami
Chapter 5
Fri September 15th
Meeting Four
Lecture Six: Volcanoes and Other Igneous Activity
Flows, Gases and Pyroclastics, Types of Volcanoes, Volcanic Landforms, Plate Tectonics and Vulcanism
Chapter 6
Lecture Seven: Crustal Deformation and Mountain Building
Folds, Faults, Types of Mountain Ranges, Isostasy, Joints
Rocks of the Day: Scoria, Pumice, Obsidian and Basalt
Book of the Day: Volcano Watch by Toni Dwiggins
Chapter 7
Fri September 22nd
Meeting Five
Lecture Eight: Weathering, Soil, Mass Movement
Soil Formation, Soil Classification, Soil Erosion, Mass Wasting - Controls and Triggers
Chapter 8
Lecture Nine: Running Water and Ground Water
The Hydrologic Cycle, River Systems, Work From Running Water, Erosion, Deposition, Floods, Groundwater: Storage and Movement of Groundwater, Springs and Wells, Contamination, Subsidence, Latitude, Longitude, Topological Maps
Rock of the Day: Sandstone
Book of the Day: Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner
Chapter 9
Fri September 29th
Meeting Six
Lecture Ten: Glaciers, Deserts, and Wind
Glacial Erosion, Landforms, Glacial Deposits, Ice Ages, Evolution of a Desert, Dunes
Chapter 10
Lecture Eleven: Geologic Time
Relative Dating, Law of Superposition, Cross-Cutting Relationships, Inclusions, Principle of Original Horizontality, Unconformities, Disconformity, Fossils, Radiometric Dating, The Geologic Timescale
Rock of the Day: Morton Gneiss
Chapter 11
Fri October 6th
Meeting Seven
Lecture Twelve: Evolution of Earth
What Makes Earth Habitable?, Birth of a Planet, Origin and Evolution of the Atmosphere and Oceans, Geological Timescale
Chapter 12
Lecture Thirteen: The Ocean Floor
Mapping the Ocean Floor, Continental Margins, Deep-Ocean Basins, Oceanic Ridge System
Rock of the Day: Banded Iron Formation
Chapter 13
Fri October 13th
Meeting Eight

Midterm Exam (Geology, Ocean Floor)

Chapters 1 to 13


Fri October 20th
Meeting Nine
Lecture Fourteen: Ocean Water and Ocean Life
Composition of Sea Water, Variations in Temperature and Density, Ocean Life, Ocean Productivity
Chapter 14
Lecture Fifteen: The Dynamic Ocean
Ocean Circulation, Ocean Waves, Coastal Features
Chapter 15


Fri October 27th
Meeting Ten
Lecture Sixteen: The Atmosphere; Composition, Structure and Temperature
Weather and Climate, Height and Structure of the Atmosphere, Ozone Hole, Greenhouse Effect, Earth-Sun Relationships, Mechanisms of Heat Transfer, Cloud Cover and Albedo, Electromagnetic Spectrum
Chapter 16
Lecture Seventeen: Moisture, Clouds and Precipitation
Phase Changes of Water, Relative and Absolute Humidity, Dew Point, Stability and Instabilty of Air Masses, Classification of Cloud Types, Precipitation
Chapter 17
Fri November 3rd
Meeting Eleven
Lecture Eighteen: Air Pressure and Wind
Measuring Air Pressure, Idealized Global Circulation, Jet Streams, Local Winds, Land and Sea Breezes
Chapter 18
Lecture Nineteen: Weather Patterns and Severe Storms
Types of Air Masses, Fronts, Cyclones and Anti-cyclones,Severe Storms: Thunderstorms, Tornados, Hurricanes
Chapter 19
No Class November 10th - Veteran's Holiday
Fri November 17th
Meeting Twelve
Lecture Twenty: World Climates and Global Climate Change
Types of Climates, Human Impact on Global Climate, Climate Feedback Mechanisms, Past and Future Climate
Chapter 20
No Class November 24th - Thanksgiving


Fri December 1st
Meeting Thirteen
Lecture Twenty-One: Origin of Modern Astronomy
Early Greeks, Ptolemaic System, Copernican System, Kepler's Laws, Galileo, Constellations, Rotation, Revolution, Precession, Phases of the Moon
Chapter 21
Lecture Twenty-Two: Touring Our Solar System
Terrestrial Planets, Jovian Planets, The Moon, Asteroids, Comets, Meteoroids
Chapter 22
Fri December 8th
Meeting Fourteen
Lecture Twenty-Three: Light, Telescopes and the Sun
Nature of Light, Spectroscopy, Doppler Effect, Telescopes, Structure and Composition of the Sun
Chapter 23
Lecture Twenty-Four: Beyond the Solar System
Stellar Brightness, Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, Variable Stars, Interstellar Matter, Stellar Evolution
Chapter 24
Fri December 15th
Meeting Fifteen

Final Exam (Oceanography, Meteorology and Astronomy)

Chapter 14-24