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Astronomy 141
Life in the Universe

Autumn Quarter 2008
Prof. Scott Gaudi
MWF 9:30-10:48am
0120 Baker Systems Engineering

[Instructor | Course Description | Syllabus | News | Lectures | Homework | Exams | Internet Resources | Further Reading | Copyright Statement ]


Professor: Scott Gaudi

Office: 4057 McPherson Lab (614-292-1914)
Office Hours: Tue, Wed, Thur 11:30am-12:30pm, or by appointment

Course Description

Astronomy 141 is an introduction to the study of life in the universe, or alternatively, astrobiology. The topics that will be covered in the course exist at the interfaces of astronomy, chemistry, biology, geology, and the earth and planetary sciences. We will learn about scientists' ongoing quest for answers to some of the most fundamental human questions: How did life originate on Earth? Is there life on other planets? Are we alone in the universe? What is the long-term future of life in the universe?

In particular, we will divide our time approximately equally between three topics: (1) the emergence and nature of life on the Earth, (2) the potential for life on other planets in the solar system, and (3) the search for habitable worlds and life throughout the Galaxy. The course will begin with a brief introduction to modern science and astronomy, and end with a brief digression on the long-term future of life on our planet, and in the universe in general.

Note that this is a 5 credit course, which counts as a Physical Science Course in the Natural Science category of the General Education Curriculum.


The Class Syllabus may be downloaded in PDF Format [110kb]

Course News

The final exam results are below.


The links below lead to outlines of the lectures. These are intended to provide a guide to the subjects that will be covered during class and are by no means transcripts of the lectures. I strongly encourage class attendance, as not all of the essential class material will appear on these web pages or in the text. Outlines will generally become available at the beginning of the week in which the lectures occur.

Unit 1: Introduction to Science and Astronomy [September 24, 26, 29, October 1]

Unit 2: Life on Earth [October 3, 6, 8, 10, 13]

Unit 3: Life in the Solar System [October 17, 20, 22, 24, 27, 29, 31, November 3, 5]

Unit 4: Life in the Universe [November 10, 12, 14, 17, 19, 21, 24, 26]

Unit 5: Death in the Universe [December 3, 5]

I recommend that students make copies of these outlines before class and then take notes on these outlines during class.


There will be four (4) homework assignments during the quarter. Homework will be handed out on Mondays and due on the following Monday.

Homework Schedule

Homework 1: [Problem Set | Solutions] (Due Monday, October 6)
Homework 2: [Problem Set | Solutions] (Due Monday, October 27)
Homework 3: [Problem Set | Solutions] (Due Monday, November 17)
Homework 4: [Problem Set | Solutions] (Due Monday, November 24)

I will post the