UNV 1: What is life? Where do we come from? Our planet and the solar system

At the end of this week, you should be able to:

Recognize Earth as a biosphere, and describe its position and motion in a larger structure such as the Solar system, an environment that hosts a habitable planet.

  1. Distinguish “living” from “non-living” by evaluating their essential characteristics.

  2. Identify and differentiate the major constituents (Sun, planets) of our solar system and describe their motions within.

  3. Distinguish vector quantities from scalar quantities.

  4. Analyze a simple motion of an object by correctly calculating its position, velocity and acceleration as a function of time, given any one of the functions.

  5. Given the graph of position, velocity or acceleration as a function of time, sketch the graph of other parameters as a function of time.

Go through the following preparation set before this week's lecture. Have your NS101 notebook and a pen at hand while you go through the set.

First, watch the lecture video and take notes while watching! There are some "checkpoint" questions included in the videos. They are NOT quizzes but are only for your self-check and will NOT be graded. You must separately take a quiz after each video, when you can answer all the "checkpoint" questions in the video correctly. It is beneficial for you to watch the videos and take the quizzes in order.

 Virtual lecture slides are available in VL resources!

Read the Syllabus.

All course-related inquiries should be emailed to ns101@sabanciuniv.edu

Virtual Lecture Set 1: Welcome to the Universe Module!

UNV1 Graphic Organizer (Click to download)

The question that we will try to answer through this module is “are we alone in the Universe?” Find out what this first module is about, and how we will explore the question.

Are We Alone in the Universe? [06:44]

Let’s start our journey by looking at our environment and how we, the intelligent life on Earth, may have come about... because we are the only life form that we know exist. Was there anything in the history of the Earth that made it unique for life to emerge? Or could this have also happened elsewhere in our galaxy?

It is widely believed that the universe began from a single point that is very hot and dense, which started expanding after the “big bang”. How has the universe evolved since then, eventually to host life on Earth? Watch this video clip and take the following quiz.

Cosmic Evolution and Biodiversity [09:00]

Our planet Earth lies in the Solar system − a system of planets and other bodies all orbiting around one star, the Sun, at its center. What are there in our Solar system? How is the Earth different or special to host the diversity of life? First, let’s learn some facts about our Sun. Use the information found on this webpage (Click on "IN DEPTH" tab), to fill in the fact sheet table. You will use this information in the quiz that follows

The Sun and the Solar System [04:19]

How do these bodies found in the Solar system move? We can describe their motions based on observations, and that is the first step in exploring what may be causing such motions and in turn, how the Solar system (and our home planet) may have formed.

Describing Motion [09:06]

Describing Motion Example [05:25]


Virtual Lecture:

Active Lecture:


Supplementary Resources (use as needed)

Short Tutorial Demo Video for Everybody

Math Review

Scale of the Solar System


For the Interested