From the Big Bang to Dark Energy

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Course Date: 05 August 2014 to 02 September 2014 (4 weeks)

Price: free

Course Summary

This course will cover various topics on the discoveries about how the Universe evolved in 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang.

Estimated Workload: 4-7 hours/week

Course Instructors

Hitoshi Murayama

Hitoshi Murayama received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from University of Tokyo in 1991.  He worked as a Research Associate at Tohoku University from April 1991, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory from September 1993. He joined the Physics Department at UC Berkeley in July 1995, became an Associate Professor in July 1998, and Professor in July 2000. Professor Murayama is also the Director of Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU), Todai Institutes for Advanced Study(TODIAS), at University of Tokyo, as of 2013. He received Yukawa Commemoration Prize in Theoretical Physics and is a Fellow of American Physical Society.  He is elected to 2013 Fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He is well-known for his clear lectures for students and general audience.

Course Description

We have learned a lot recently about how the Universe evolved in 13.7 billion years since the Big Bang. More than 80% of matter in the Universe is mysterious Dark Matter, which made stars and galaxies to form. The newly discovered Higgs-boson became frozen into the Universe a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang and brought order to the Universe. Yet we still do not know how ordinary matter (atoms) survived against total annihilation by Anti-Matter. The expansion of the Universe started acceleration about 7 billion years ago and the Universe is being ripped apart. The culprit is Dark Energy, a mysterious energy multiplying in vacuum. I will present evidence behind these startling discoveries and discuss what we may learn in the near future.

This course offers two learning paths: Basic Track and Advanced Track. The difference between these two tracks is the level of homework exercises. Students can choose either track according to your interest, motivation and prerequisite knowledge and skills. Also, you can just audit the course, if you feel problem sets are too hard.


  • Will I get a Statement of Accomplishment after completing this class?
    Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a Statement of Accomplishment signed by the instructor.

  • Do I earn The University of Tokyo credits upon completion of this class?
    No. The Statement of Accomplishment is not part of a formal qualification from The University of Tokyo.

  • Do I need to select the track upon enrollment?
    No, you don't have to explicitly sign up for a track. At the end of the course, grades of students will be automatically figured out, according to the selection of problem sets.


Week 1: From Daily Life to the Big Bang
Week 2: Birth of Elements and Higgs Boson
Week 3: Dark Matter and Anti-Matter
Week 4: Inflation and Dark Energy


The class consists of lecture videos, homework exercises and a final exam.
  • Lectures: Each week, approx. 1.5–2h lecture videos divided into short video clips are provided.
  • Homework Exercises: Two levels of graded quizzes and problem sets are provided. Students can choose either:
    • Basic Track: Basic level quizzes and problem sets to assess your conceptual understanding are provided. In some parts, simple calculations will be required.
    • Advanced Track: In addition to the Basic Track problems, advanced level quizzes and problems sets, which require application of concepts and mathematical skills, are provided.
  • Final Exam: The exam consists of quizzes and problem sets to assess overall understanding of what you have learned in this course.

Course Workload

4-7 hours/week

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