This mini-course discusses the on-going search for extra-terrestrial life.
- Does ET exist?
- Has he/she/it visited Earth?
- Do we want to try to communicate and should we?
In this course we will discuss the on-going search for extra-terrestrial life. We will place a strong focus on the scientific hurdles that lie in our understanding the development of life and for its potential evolution towards interstellar travel and communication. The framework of the course will be based upon the Drake Equation, first posed to estimate the total number of intelligent civilizations that might exist in the Galaxy at a given time. Thus we will take a census of the potential for life beyond Earth through an exploration of our own solar system. We will then survey beyond our own star system to the exciting search for “extra-solar” planets and their biological potential. We will end with a group activity where students and professors will try to estimate how many ET civilizations might exist and then move on to discuss our future potential to travel to the stars.
Grading basis: 3 homework assignments (47%, see samples at end of syllabus); in-class questions (3%, through the use of electronic response devices); and final exam (50%, sample questions attached).
Non-science concentrators with a basic high school math background
Lecture with clickers and in-class group activities