May 23, 2005

Helfand, David Silver_nugget
[ASTR 1404] Beyond the Solar System

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I took this class wanting a challenge that was doable. Yet if you are not a math person, do not take this class. Notice that I say "math person", not "science person". That is because this class requires almost no scientific thinking, contrary to Helfand's claims at the beginning of the semester. Rather, the thinking required for the class consists almost solely of petty, mathematical computations on the problem sets and exams. Previous reviewers have raved about Helfand's amazing lectures and speaking style ("he was a theater major!" exlaims one.) Yet this is Helfand's only plus, which is sad because he has nothing to say. Also, Helfand lamented dramatically during lectures that he was "losing touch with the students for the first time in 27 years" or some bullshit like that. Indeed, Helfand speaks truth: almost no one attended lectures and everyone attended his review sessions that were held the night the problem sets were due. Is this really the way to learn or to run a class? Do not take this class if you actually want to learn something astronomy. Fritz Paerels is a much better...

Workload:

Illogically worded problem sets that had nothing to do with the material covered in class, a midterm and final