Life in the Universe
Spring Semester 2016
Prof. Richard Pogge
Astronomy 1141 is an overview of astrobiology,
from life on the Earth to the search for life elsewhere in our Solar
System and in the universe as a whole. It is a General Education (GE)
Physical Science course in the Natural Science category. The goals of
courses in this category are for students to understand the
principles, theories, and methods of modern science, the relationship
between science and technology, the implications of scientific
discoveries and the potential of science and technology to address
problems of the contemporary world.
By the end of this course, students should successfully be able to:
1008 Evans Lab (88 W. 18th Ave)
Astronomy 1141 will meet these expected outcomes by
- Understand the basic facts, principles, theories and methods of
- Understand key events in the development of science and recognize
that science is an evolving body of knowledge.
- Describe the interdependence of scientific and technological
- Recognize social and philosophical implications of scientific
discoveries and understand the potential of science and technology to
address problems of the contemporary world.
This course attempts to convey a number of the facts that astronomers
and astrophysicists have learned about these topics, to describe the
outstanding scientific problems that are the focus of current
research, to illustrate ways in which physical principles are used to
understand the universe, and to show how scientific theories are
developed and tested against observations.
Among the questions that you should be able to answer by the end of
the course are the following:
- Investigating the basic facts, principles, theories, and methods
of modern science as practiced in astrobiology.
- Learning about the basic observations of the natural world that
underlie our inquiry into the nature of life in the universe.
- Learning important events in the history of astronomy, biology,
geology, and chemistry, and how they have caused our views of life in
the universe to change with time.
- Explaining the role of modern technology in our investigation of
the Galaxy and the search for life beyond the Earth.
Astronomy 1141 meets three days per week for 3 hours of lecture.
Lectures are Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 9:10-10:05a m in Room
1008 Evans Laboratory. Attendance is required . The lectures are
your primary source of course content, and exams are based on the
lectures. Attendance will be estimated daily using OSU's TopHat
student response system. Similarly, participation in classroom
activities (group problems and discussions) will factor into the final
course grade. I will use attendance and participation to increase
your grade by one step (e.g., from B+ to A-) if your course grade is
within 2% of the higher grade before applying the attendance and
We will be using OSU's Carmen
learning management system for this course. This webpage provides
enough basic info to help those not yet registered learn about the
course but who cannot access the Carmen pages.
- What is the nature and history of life on earth?
- What are the basic requirements for life that informs our search for life elsewhere?
- What places in the Solar System are likely places to look for life beyond Earth?
- What are the properties of stars, and how do we define the "habitability" of a star system?
- What are the properties of exoplanets, planets around other stars, and how do we find exoplanets?
- What is the status of our search for exoEarths and what how do we define a planet as "Earth-like"?
- What are the prospects for finding intelligent life in the universe? How do we define "intelligent"?
- What is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) and what are its goals?
- What are the challenges of interstellar travel and colonization, and how does this inform our search for extraterrestrial intelligence?
All of the written materials provided in these web pages are copyrighted by the course instructor, except
as noted. In addition, some images and animations are also
copyrighted by the instructor, while others are copyrighted by the
original sources. These latter appear with the written permission of
the copyright holders. Please read the Copyright Statement before you make copies
of any of these web pages for any purpose. Use of these notes implies
that you have read and understood the copyright statement.
Updated: 2016 January 2
Copyright © Richard W. Pogge. All Rights