The Universe and You: From Ancient Times to Multiverse Theory

New York University

Matthew Stanley teaches the history and philosophy of science at NYU. He holds degrees in astronomy, religion, physics, and the history of science and is interested in the connections between science and the wider culture. He has held fellowships at the British Academy, and the Max Planck Institute, and was recently awarded the NYU Distinguished Teaching Award. Professor Stanley is the author of Einstein’s War: How Relativity Triumphed Amid the Vicious Nationalism of World War I.



Humans have been struggling for a very long time to understand our place in the universe – and even what the universe is. The cosmos is a confusing place, and comprehending it has obsessed some of the greatest minds of history: from Aristotle to Copernicus, to Newton to Einstein. In this class, Professor Matthew Stanley will explore the changing views of the universe: crystal spheres gave way to clockwork, and the Big Bang exploded into the multiverse. And the question always remains: where do we fit in?


Discussion Questions: 

  1. How can we study the universe from inside it?
  1. Are humans an important part of the universe?
  1. How can we make sense of the huge time and distance scales involved in our modern understandings of the universe?




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