Life in the Universe
Prof. Scott Gaudi
Lecture 1: Overview and Goals
(Note since I will be not be giving this lecture, the actual content may differ from what is presented on this page.)
Answering Unanswerable Questions
- Break question up into components.
- Make observations to answer component questions.
- Verify with additional observations.
- Construct lines of inquiry to allow progress in difficult areas.
- Concept of large numbers: very improbable events or combinations are
likely with many realizations.
- Concept of selection biases.
How many extraterrestrial civilizations are there that we may come in contact with?
- What is required for life?
- Where can life exist?
- What is required for communication?
- What is required for intelligence?
- How long does it take for life to develop?
- How long do intelligent civilizations last?
The Drake Equation
- Rate of star formation in the Galaxy.
- Fraction of stars that form planets.
- Fraction of planets that are Earth-like.
- Fraction of Earth-like planets that develop life.
- Fraction of such planets that develop intelligent life.
- Fraction of such civilizations that are willing and able to communicate.
- Period of time that the civilization can and does communicate.
Overview: What are we trying to do here?
Learn about the scientific progress toward answering that fundamental human question:
Are we alone?
We will do this by trying to answer simpler questions:
- What is life?
- What is the nature of life on Earth?
- How did life originate on Earth?
- Is there life in the solar system?
- Are there other solar systems?
- Is there life on the planets of those systems?
- How can we detect those systems and life on them?
- Will we ever contact other sentient beings?
- What is the long-term future of life on Earth?
- What is the long-term future of life in the Universe?
- Unit 1: Introduction to Science and Astronomy
- Unit 2: Life on Earth
- Unit 3: Life in the Solar System
- Unit 4: Life in the Universe
- Unit 5: Death in the Universe
Why Study Astrobiology? (Now)
- Unique time in human history?
- --Scientific method
- --Copernican world view
- Basis of knowledge
- --Understand of Evolution of Life Earth
- --Planets may be common
- --Life may be common
The Sciences of Astrobiology
- [Math and Physics]
- Chemistry and Biology
- Geology, Paleontology; Earth and Planetary Science
- Astronomy, Astrophysics
- (Philosophy, Computer Science, Sociology, Ethics, Religion)
Math and Physics
- Provide the basic framework in which we describe nature.
Chemistry and Biology
- Chemical principles of life
- Definition of life and the diversity of life on Earth
- Structure and nature of biology
Earth and Planetary Science
- History and evolution of the Earth
- Origin and evolution of life
- Environmental conditions on the Earth and other planets
Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Size, age, and scale of the Universe
- Origin and evolution of chemistry
- Frequency and properties of other worlds
- Long-term future of the Universe
- Computer Science
See A Note about Graphics to learn
why the graphics shown in the lectures are generally not reproduced with
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Unit 1 Page
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