Learning outcomes

By the end of this unit you should be able to:

  • describe the characteristics of light emitted by stars, and hence the information of cosmological interest that can be deduced from it;

  • distinguish between true and false statements relevant to the distribution and motion of stars within galaxies, and of galaxies within clusters and superclusters;

  • outline the methods used for estimating the distances to stars and to galaxies;

  • explain and
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7.4 Summary of Section 7

Fibres of the cochlear nerve synapse on the cells of the cochlear nuclear complex which is the first station of the central auditory pathway. From here signals are sent to the superior olivary complex, the inferior colliculus, lateral lemniscus, medial geniculate nucleus and finally the auditory cortex. The central role of the auditory cortex is the processing of complex sounds.

Each cochlear nuclear complex receives input from only one ear. In the cochlear nuclear complex are several d
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4 Suggestions for further reading

If you wish to pursue some of the topics discussed in this unit in greater detail you might like to start with one or another of the following works.

General

John D. Barrow (1988), The World Within the World, Oxford.

Richard P. Feynman (1992), The Character of Physical Law, Penguin Books.

Brian Greene (1999), The Elegant Universe, W. W. Norton.

Werner Heisenberg (1990), Physics and Philosophy, Penguin Books.

Jan Hilgevoor
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2.1.1 Science and regularity

‘Our experience shows that only a small part of the physical Universe needs to be studied in order to elucidate its underlying themes and patterns of behaviour. At root this is what it means for there to exist laws of Nature, and it is why they are invaluable to us. They may allow an understanding of the whole Universe to be built up from the study of small selected parts of it.”

John D. Barrow (1988), The Worl
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3.1 Introduction

In mammals and birds, homeostasis, the provision of a stable internal environment, includes keeping certain physiological variables, T b, cellular and extracellular water and blood glucose at near constant levels. T b of reptiles varies with T a, but reptiles can only function over a limited range of T b. Nevertheless, vertebrate species live successfully in deserts, which are arid, have low productivity and extremes of <
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2.1 Introduction

The unique climate and topography of each desert links to the unique and characteristic flora and fauna found there. From the brief description of deserts provided in Section 1, you can appreciate that a desert provides a variety of niches for animals and plants. The term ‘niche’ applied to animals describes its role in a particular environment, and includes a number of characteristics such as habitat range, how the animal feeds, its diet, its environmental requirements and also its preda
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5.3 Mitochondrial adaptations

During the winter months, whilst hibernating vertebrates maintain a very low metabolic rate, major reorganization of mitochondrial metabolism occurs. The phenomenon has been studied in some detail in frogs which, although not hibernators in the true sense, can endure very low water temperatures under the conditions of profound hypoxia that exist when they lie dormant for long periods below the surface. In contrast to normoxic conditions, the muscle mitochondria of dormant frogs depress their
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References

Blakemore, C. and Cooper, A. (1970) Development of the brain depends on visual environment, Nature, 228, pp. 477–8.
Caspi, A., McClay, J., Moffitt, T. E., Mill, J., Martin, J., Craig, I. W., Taylor, A. and Poulton, R. (2002) Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated children, Science, 297, pp. 851–4.
Caspi, A., Sugden, K., Moffitt, T. E., Taylor
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5.2 Sexually dimorphic nucleus of the preoptic area (SDN-POA)

As well as affecting behaviour (Section 3.4) neonatal testosterone also affects the physical characteristics of some areas of the brain. One of these is a small area of the hypothalamus, the medial preoptic area, which, although small, is much larger in males than in females. This size difference is mediated by testosterone.

<
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1.5.3 Sedimentary strata

We've seen that the detective work of piecing together a part of Earth's history from sedimentary rocks involves detailed investigation of rock samples, but this can give only a partial picture. On the larger scale of a rock exposure, there can be plenty for us to see and to interpret. Sedimentary rocks are usually found as layers referred to as strata (Author(s): The Open University

1.5.2 Sedimentary processes

Sedimentary grains are formed when the rocks at the Earth's surface are slowly broken up physically by exposure to wind and frost, and decomposed (chemically) by rainwater or biological action. These processes are collectively termed weathering. Once a rock has been broken up by weathering, the small rock fragments and individual mineral grains can be eroded from their place of origin by water, wind or glaciers and transported to be deposited elsewhere as roughly horizontal layers of sediment
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1.6.5 RSS

RSS (‘Really Simple Syndication’ or ‘Rich Site Summary’) newsfeeds supply headlines, links, and article summaries from various websites. By using RSS ‘feedreader’ software you can gather together a range of feeds and read them in one place: they come to you, rather than you having to go out and look for breaking news. The range of RSS feeds on offer is growing daily. There is probably a feed to cover all aspects of your life where you might need the latest information, and you may
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1.4.4 O is for Objectivity

One of the characteristics of ‘good’ information is that it should be balanced and present both sides of an argument or issue. This way the reader is left to weigh up the evidence and make a decision. In reality, we recognise that no information is truly objective.

This means that the onus is on you, the reader, to develop a critical awareness of the positions represented in what you read, and to take account of this when you interpret the information. In some cases, authors may be
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13 Post-compulsory science education

In a speech to the Institute of Economic Affairs in 2001, the then UK Secretary of State for Education said:

Young people choosing vocational study will be able to see a ladder of progression that gives structure, purpose and expectation to their lives, in the same way that a future pathway is clear to those who leave school to gain academic A-levels and enter university. Over-16s in full-time education will be abl
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12 Science in secondary schools

The first three readings in this unit use the context of secondary education, particularly in the UK and Australia. In this section, I'll be looking again at the issues highlighted in the previous section on primary science and drawing comparisons with experiences in secondary schools; I'll re-visit much the same issues when I consider post-compulsory science education in Author(s): The Open University

11 Primary science

Primary science has grown in importance in many countries in recent years and all programmes have faced similar problems of improving the science knowledge of primary teachers, lack of equipment, and, just as significantly, lack of agreement about what sort of science should be taught to young pupils. To illustrate some of the similar issues that have confronted policy makers in many areas of the world, let's look at the establishment of primary science in the UK.

Before 1988, England,
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10 ‘Science for all?’ A look at some contexts

The following statement is from the science National Curriculum in England published in 2000.

The importance of science

Science stimulates and excites pupils’ curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them. It also satisfies this curiosity with knowledge. Because science links direct practical experience with ideas, it can engage learners at many levels. Scientific meth
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9 Evidence of progress?

The new one-year science course for 16–18 year olds Science for Public Understanding, (SPU) has recently been developed and trialled in the UK. It embodies much of the thinking behind Science 2000. Central to the course is the notion that students would use interesting and engaging topics and issues in science, many with a contemporary feel, to develop ‘key science ideas and ideas-about-science’. As with all syllabuses of this (AS) type, SPU is split into modules. The firs
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7.4.2 Assumptions within models

  • recognise that theoretical models carry in-built assumptions that limit the contexts to which the theoretical models can be applied;

  • recognise that the application of theoretical models to a particular context often involves approximations concerning the phenomenon under study.


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