Intro to Science image

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. - Albert Einstein

Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. Examples include the double helix in biology and the fundamental equations of physics. - Stephen Hawking

New discoveries in science will continue to create a thousand new frontiers for those who still would adventure. - Herbert Hoover

The universe is an amazing place. It is vaster than it is possible to measure, stranger and more magical than any science fiction or fantasy, more beautiful than any art, and far more complex than can ever be imagined. Studying the universe – studying science – whether that is on the grandest scales of cosmology, the smallest scales of quantum physics and subatomic chemistry, or the beautiful complexity of life, is to set yourself on the path to an adventure that will stay with you forever.

This course, Introduction to Science, aims to give you just a taste for that adventure, as we travel through the entirety of scientific understanding (or at least as much as we can fit in). Starting with the very first moments of creation, we will journey through physics to explore what is known about how the universe works; we will witness the creation of the earth, the evolution of life, learn about genetics, explore how humans are able to live and thrive amidst the challenges of nature, and how we are changing that nature, and the implications of this. We will explore the technology all around us, and the everyday implications that this has for how we live; and then we will plunge into the future and look at some of the exciting developments that will affect us in the next few years.

Each week we will explore a new topic, as well as discussing the science that is going on in the world around us. If you have ever wanted to learn more about the science and the way everything works, join us for what promises to be an exciting ride!

No prior knowledge of science is required, just an inquisitive mind!

Indicative Topics

WeekTopic
 1 What is science/ how research works
 2 The big bang - solar system
 3 States of matter
 4 Fundamental forces energy, light, electricity, magnetism, and gravity
 5 The atom and how to break it! E=MC2!
 6 The quantum world and the theory of everything
 7 Geology and the planet
 8 What is life? The kingdoms of life
 9 Cells!
  -- Christmas break --
 10 Evolution, extinction, and the origins of life
 11 Ecology and bio-systems
 12 Basic genetics
 13 Biotechnology genetic modification
 14 The immune system and disease
 15 Epidemiology and medicine
 16 Air pollution and climate change
 17 Big data – Google, etc.
 18 Bad science and ethics
 19 The future of science?
 20 Science presentations
Please note that the course aims to be responsive to student interests so the order and content may vary.
Summary of the table's contents

About the tutor

Dr David Stokes received his PhD from the flagship John Innes Institute and currently works for the Cleft Lip and Palate Association (CLAPA). Previously, David managed a cross-disciplinary research programme at Imperial College London. David has run a number of adult education courses and has been heavily involved in events and activities aimed at engaging the public in the exciting world of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), organising events such as research festivals at the Science Museum London, and hands-on science weekends. David is the founder of the Medway Science Centre Partnership, a voluntary collective aiming to set up a hands-on science hub in Medway, Kent.

Questions regarding the content and teaching of the above course should be addressed directly to Dr David Stokes, david.stokes@clapa.com.

Enrolment infos

Imperial College undergraduates and postgraduates may, if they wish, acquire 2 ECTS credits after successfully completing their Evening Class. To qualify, a student must attend the classes regularly and pass a test at the end of the second term. Students will be invited to apply in the second term to take the test.