American University of Central Asia General Education Program Fall 2015 Syllabus – Concepts of Modern Sciences

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American University of Central Asia

General Education Program

Fall 2015

Syllabus – Concepts of Modern Sciences



Office Hours



Part 1

Imanaliev Uzak

Lectures 1 – 10
Part 2

Kalmurzaev Bolot

Lectures 11 – 15

r. 315

Course ID

Course Credits


Day and Time



LAS 100

Part 1




Part 2





Fall 2015


Tuesday lecture

12:45 – 14:00
Thursday sem.












  1. Course Description

This course introduces modern scientific methods used in studying the Universe. Students will have an opportunity to learn the fundamental concepts about the nature of scientific endeavor within which all great scientific explorations have been undertaken. Students will also study a variety of methodologies and ideas rooted in ancient, medieval and modern natural sciences which were gradually, but surely, forming today’s contemporary world view of science – both generally and in its infinitesimal details. This study allows students to place the main ideas and theories underlying modern natural sciences in their proper cultural, historical, philosophical, and intellectual contexts.

  1. Students Learning Objectives:

  • To introduce students to the main scientific methods which make comprehensible the world they live in;

  • To provide students with adequate terminology and a clear vision of subjects of study in natural sciences;

  • To show students how mathematical idealizations, constructs and concepts such as points, lines, angles, surfaces, numbers, functions, etc. can be used to design a whole range of models simulating real world processes;

  • To enable students to discern hidden rationales for the advent of radical changes which occurred in beliefs and theories (e.g., paradigm shifts, scientific revolutions), including the influence of societal factors;

  • To develop students’ overall abstract and logical thinking abilities as well as the basic knowledge and skills necessary to formulate and solve scientific problems;

  • To enable students to evaluate the domains of scientific comparisons, analogies, and metaphors;

  • To stimulate academic curiosity/interest and an appreciation of continuing education in students;

  • To assist each interested student cultivate the scientific eye and the detached scientific mind;

  • To help each student to become aware in and of the Universe.

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:

  • Possess knowledge of the main paradigms, concepts, ideas, terms, notions, postulates, hypotheses, and theories concerning natural sciences;

  • Be able to formulate and understand the primary laws and principles of natural sciences as well as why and how they came about;

  • Understand the inner logic and trends underlying the development of natural sciences as an integral part of human culture;

  • Exercise control over hundreds of exciting, interesting and powerful terms from the professional vocabulary of scientists;

  • Be able to recognize key historical figures and events in the natural sciences;

  • Be able to create their own scientific models and pictures of the “world naturalis”, sufficient to meet professional standards;

  • Be able to read articles on natural sciences from a standard scientific resource and understand it reasonably well;

  • Know the main scientific resources (journals, books, Internet sites, etc.) in which one is likely to find materials of interest to students of natural sciences;

  • To be proficient enough to “filter” science from pseudoscience and superstitions;

  • Understand the place, mission, roles and responsibilities of humans in the Universe.

  1. Course Policies

  • All students should arrive in the auditorium prior to the commencement of each class; the beginning of each class shall start on time;

  • Cell phones should be turned off or in “silent” mode;

  • Talking and student conduct during lessons which are unrelated to classroom activities are not permitted;

  • Students should exercise judgment based upon common sense and ethical principles to determine acceptable norms of conduct;

  • Food and beverages are not permitted in the classroom (unless it is medically driven);

  • Lecture and lab time shall be spent on class-related work only;

  • Students have to follow ACADEMIC HONESTY code. All types of cheating (plagiarism etc) are strictly prohibited. If a student fails to observe this requirement, instructor may give from an “F” for the work up to an “F” for the whole course depending on the type of assignment and other circumstances.

  1. Assessment

    1. Grading scale:

100≥ A > 95≥ A- >90≥ B+ >85≥ B >80≥ B- >75≥ C+ >70≥ C >65≥ C- >60≥ D+ >55≥ D≥ 50≥ D+ >50≥ D->45≥ F ≥ 0

    1. Grading will be based on following components:

Part 1 Imanaliev Uzak 75 points:

  • Presentations – 40 points;

  • Research Paper and Presentation – 25 points;

  • MidTerm – 10 points;

Part 2 Kalmurzaev Bolot 25 points:

Test (Final exam) – 25 points;

Attendance and Participation

Attendance and participation are essential and crucial parts of this class. Students are expected to attend every class, thoroughly study all related materials and actively participate in lectures/seminars. Attendance and participation can substantially alter students’ grades – for either better or worse.

Students are invited to express their opinions, ideas, visions, counterarguments, etc., during lectures and lab-time. Speakers are expected to be professional, specific, concrete, and focused on the topic of discussion.

If a student is 10 or more minutes tardy for the beginning of a class it will be recorded by the instructor. Four such delays will compose an absence. In all cases, students are strongly advised to be present in class as every absence does affect the degree to which one is successful in his/ her search for knowledge.


Suggestions for presentation topics will be provided by the teacher. Students may suggest their own presentation themes, to be discussed with the instructor. Evaluation criteria for presentations are as follows: scientific content, focus on the subject, comprehensibility, audience feedback, visual effect/illustrations.

Research Paper

Problems for Research Project can be chosen from sites, or other sites containing innovative problems. The main result of Research Project is a method for solving innovative problem.

The RP should be printed in English and consist of 8 – 10 pages, including the cover page, table of contents, list of resources and the research itself. The RP must be scientific and contain actual data, paradigms, concepts, ideas, and conclusions. It should be based on research conducted by each student, and should be submitted after presentations. In rare special cases, the RP may be submitted not later than two weeks prior to the final exam. All considerations relating to Academic Integrity, Plagiarism and Technical features of the RP (formatting, references, quotes, footnotes, preamble and conclusion) should meet AUCA requirements and standards.

Mid-Term and Final Exams

Exams must be taken at the scheduled time. If students have valid reasons to miss exams, they should notify the instructor and submit all required documents. Failure to follow these requirements will result in no credit for each missed exam.

Exams may be conducted as open- or closed-book tests. Exams may contain different types of questions (e.g., multiple choice questions, Yes/No questions, and questions that require either a concise answer or detailed essay).

  1. Miscellaneous


Secondary school natural sciences and mathematics;

English language skills of students should meet AUCA standards.

  1. Textbooks and References

  1. Core Texts/Excerpts (Core materials include, but are not limited to selected excerpts from the following works):

Democritus: The Great World-ordering, Cosmography, On Nature;

Aristotle: Physics, On the Heavens, On the Universe, Parva Naturalia;

Lucretius Carus: On the Nature of Things;

Nicolaus Copernicus: On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres;

Giordano Bruno: Teofilo, in Cause, Principle, and Unity Fifth Dialogue;

Galileo Galilei: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, On Motion;

Johannes Keplerus: Mysterium cosmographicum, Astronomia nova;

Isaak Newton: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica;

James Clerk Maxwell: A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism;

Michael Faraday: Experimental Researches in Electricity;

Einstein Albert: On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies;

Niels Bohr: Collected Works

  1. Supplementary Texts/Sources:

Clifford Pickover: Archimedes to Hawking. Laws of Physics;

Clive Riggles: Ancient Astronomy An Encyclopedia Of Cosmologies & Myth;

Atlas of the Universe - Intro to Astronomy Philips, 2005;

Great Physicists Series: The Life and Times of Leading Physicists from Galileo to Hawking;

Ari Ben-Menahem: Historical Encyclopedia Natural Mathematical Sciences;

George Gamov: One, two, three…Infinity;

Morison Ian: Introduction to Astronomy & Cosmology;

Roger Penrose: Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics;

Richard Feynman: Six Easy Pieces;

Asimov Isaac: The Collapsing Universe;

Logan Robert: The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry;

Stephen Hawking: The Universe in a Nutshell;

Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe;

Brian Greene: The Fabric of the Cosmos;

Hyperphysics Portal:

  1. Course Outline for Fall 2015

Part 1. (Imanaliev Uzak)
Week 1 (September 1):

Introduction. Natural sciences as an integral and essential constituent of the human culture. Scientific method. Math and logic as universal instruments of natural sciences. Logic – Theory of syllogisms.


Thomas S. Kuhn The Copernican Revolution.

Thomas S. Kuhn The structure of scientific revolution.
Week 2 (September 8):

Laws of Motion. Zeno paradoxes. Aristotelian idea of motion. Galileo and his concept of motion. The origin of physical experimentation. Velocity and acceleration. The relativity principle in mechanics. Absolute space, time and matter in classical mechanics. Newtonian dynamics. Conservation Laws. The Mechanical Model. Determinism. Variational principles.


Aristotle: Physics, On the Heavens, On the Universe, Parva Naturalia.

Clifford Pickover: Archimedes to Hawking. Laws of Physics.

Galileo Galilei: On Motion.

Isaak Newton The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.

Thomas S. Kuhn The Copernican Revolution.

Week 3 (September 15):

Geocentric and heliocentric systems of the world. Aristotle and Ptolemy. Copernicus, who stopped the Sun. Galileo and the origin of instrumental astronomy. Keplerus and his 3 laws of celestial motion.

Newton’s law of gravity. The Sun and its family.


Nicolaus Copernicus: On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres;

Johannes Keplerus: Mysterium cosmographicum, Astronomia nova;

Galileo Galilei: Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems;

Isaak Newton: Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica;

Stephen Hawking: The Universe in a Nutshell;

Logan Robert: The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry;

Asimov Isaac: The Collapsing Universe;

Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe;

Week 4 (September 22):

Electrodynamics of Faraday and Maxwell. The corpuscular and wave theories of light. Spectrum. The electromagnetic picture of the world.


James Clerk Maxwell: A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism;

Michael Faraday: Experimental Researches in Electricity;

Week 5 (September 29):

Einstein’s special and general relativity theories. Non-Euclidean geometries. Lorenz transformations. Relativistic ideas concerning interwoven concepts of space, time, energy and matter.


Albert Einstein: On the Theory of Relativity;

Roger Penrose: Einstein’s Miraculous Year. Five Papers that Changed the Face of Physics;

Logan Robert: The Poetry of Physics and the Physics of Poetry;

Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe;

Brian Greene: The Fabric of the Cosmos.

Week 6 (October 6):

Quantum mechanics – the mechanics of microcosm. The Uncertainty Principle. Quantum Energy. Planck’s constant. Corpuscular-wave dualism. Periodic Table of chemical elements. Quantization of Space (Planck length ) and Time (Planck time). Granularity and continuity of the world: space, time, matter, energy. The four forces – the four interactions. Short-range interaction vs. Action at a Distance. Elementary particles. Superstrings. Great Unifications.


Niels Bohr: Collected Works;

Lucretius Carus: On the Nature of Things;

Quantum Mechanics Explained or Quantum Mechanics for Dummies mp4

Week 7 (October 13):

Laws of Thermodynamics. Entropy. Engines. Information.


Peter Atkins The Laws of Thermodynamics.

Ingo Muller A History of Thermodynamics.

Arieh Ben-Naim Entropy Demystified.

Week 8 (October 20):

Cosmology. Dark matter and dark energy. The expanding or collapsing Universe? The evolution of the Universe. Big Bang Theory.


Stephen Hawking: The Universe in a Nutshell;

H. Lemonick: The Echo of the Big Bang;

Brian Greene: The Elegant Universe;

Brian Greene: The Fabric of the Cosmos;

Alex Phillipenko: Lecture, MP4

Week 9: (October 27) Research Papers Presentations;
Week 10: (November 3) MidTerm;

Part 2 (Kalmurzaev Bolot )
Week 11:

The Theory of Evolution by Charles Darwin. The Origin of Species. Natural selection. Controversy over the origin of life and evolution of species. Creationism and criticism of Darwinism.


Charles Darwin (1859). The Origin of Species.

Creation-Evolution Controversy. Wikipedia.

Eugenie Scott (2005). Evolution Vs. Creationism: An Introduction. University of California Press. Book.

Kenneth Miller (1999). Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution. Cliff Street Books. Book.

Richard Dawkins (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution. Free Press. Book.

Michael Behe (1996). Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. Free Press. Book.

Phillip Johnson (2010). Darwin on Trial. InterVarsity Press. Book.

Did Darwin Kill God? (2009). BBC. Documentary. DVD.

Was Darwin Wrong? (2004). National Geographic. Documentary. DVD.

What Darwin Didn’t Know? (2009). BBC. Documentary. DVD.

Intelligent Design on Trial (2007). PBS. Documentary. DVD.

Татищев В. Н. Избранные труды по географии России
Week 12:

DNA molecule - the material basis of heredity. Gene as an elemental building block of heredity. Genetic mutations - the primary cause of variation and biological diversity, the trigger of pathological processes and aging.


Heredity. Wikipedia.

DNA (2003). PBS. Documentary. DVD.

DNA. Wikipedia.

Gene. Wikipedia.

Genetic Mutation. Wikipedia.

Alberts, Johnson, Lewis, Raff, Roberts, Walter (2008). Molecular Biology of the Cell. Garland Science, 5th Edition. Book.

Benjamin Lewin (2011). Genes X. Oxford University Press. Book.
Week 13:

Pre-genomic, genomic and post-genomic era of biomedical science: concepts, theories, views, misconceptions, frustrations and hopes. From the academic laboratory to the medical clinic - the impact of genomics on the current and future of practical medicine. A technological breakthrough in biomedical science. Personalized medicine - medicine of near future.


Human Genome Project. Wikipedia.

Ghost in our Genes (2007). PBS. Documentary. DVD.

Personalized Medicine. Wikipedia.

Predictive Medicine. Wikipedia.

Theranostics. Wikipedia.

Miracle Cure? A Decade of the Human Genome (2011). BBC. Documentary. DVD.
Week 14:

Scientific and technological breakthroughs of the last decade in biology and medicine, "fashionable" promising areas of biological research - development of cloning, stem cell and gene therapy technologies. Will the achievements in these areas significantly increase the human longevity? If so - what is the limit? Whether biological immortality is myth or prospective reality?


Human Cloning. Wikipedia.

Human Cloning (2009). Discovery Channel. Documentary. DVD.

Stem Cells. Wikipedia.

Stem Cell Terapy. Wikipedia.

Mapping Stem Cell Research: Terra Incognita (2006). PBS. Documentary. DVD.

Life Extension. Wikipedia.

Life and Death in the 21st Century: Living Forever (1999). BBC. Documentary. DVD.

Aubrey de Grey (2004). We will be able to live to 1,000. BBC News. Article.

S Jay Olshansky (2004). Don't fall for the cult of immortality. BBC News. Article.
Week 15:

Genetic Anthropology - actual direction of modern biological research answering questions - "Where did we come from, and how did we get here?" Genetic Genealogy - a combination of molecular genetics and traditional genealogy - an effective tool to determine the relationship, the origins and history of human populations and ethnic groups, as well as individuals.


Genetic Genealogy. Wikipedia.

National Geographic – The Genographic Project.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

Bryan Sykes (2002).The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry. W. W. Norton & Company. Book.

Human Family Tree (2009). National Geographic. Documentary. DVD.

Journey of Man (2003). PBS. Documentary. DVD.
Lecturing Mode:

Lectures 1 – 10, Uzak Imanaliev (Professor)

Lectures 11 – 15, Bolot Kalmurzaev (Professor)

Note Of necessity this syllabus might be modified and amended without prior notice.

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