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Astronomy 1141

The Very Large Array radio telescope [NRAO Image]

Life in the Universe
Spring Semester 2016

Prof. Richard Pogge
MWF 9:10-10:05am
1008 Evans Lab (88 W. 18th Ave)


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: Astronomy 1141 will meet these expected outcomes by 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:
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?

Course Organization

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 participation credit.

Course Information

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.

Copyright Statement

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 Reserved.