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University Course Schedule
AST 309L · Search for Extraterrestrial Life    1   2   3   4   5  


Non-academic Q-drop: After the last day for academic Q-drop, students with substantiated non-academic reasons (as determined by the Dean's Office) may be allowed to drop a course. Faculty will be asked to provide information on student performance up to the time of the non-academic Q-drop request but are not responsible for making the decision about assigning a grade of Q. Students who experience significant non-academic problems such as extended health-related problems or family emergencies are urged to contact the Dean's Office.
The College of Natural Sciences is not obliged to honor the "one free drop" policy of some other colleges (e.g. Liberal Arts), so do not ask me for a Q drop after the deadline (March 25) for academic reasons (i.e. because your grade is low), no matter what a counselor in your college may have told you.

smoker Incompletes:
An incomplete (X) will only be considered for students who cannot complete the required course work for reasons other than lack of diligence (illness or other imperative nonacademic reasons), but only if the student has a passing grade on the work completed.

Cheating:
Academic dishonesty will result in failure of the course and a report to the Dean of Students, who will decide on further action. Because of the large size of this class and the temptations involved, it will be important to keep your eyes from wandering and to guard your own exam. Students near the rear of class should try to sit one seat apart. Also, bring your UT ID card with you to exams and be prepared to show this card if asked.

Student observing opportunities:
(call 471-5007 or see Public Viewing for Monday updates; information below is tentative)

Students interested in observing the night sky through small telescopes have several opportunities. 1. The Painter Hall Observatory has UT Student/Staff Night on Fridays and Public Night is on Saturdays. These sessions are free and open to all ages; no reservations are required. 2. The Astronomy Department sponsors weekly "Star Parties" on the 18th floor observing deck of R. L. Moore Hall on Wednesdays. This is free and open to the public. Call phone number or see url listed above for current times.

Course Description (please read carefully):
This course is concerned with the possibilities and implications of extraterrestrial life and intelligence. In a sense, it is really a class about possibilities and probabilities, since we have very little evidence on which to form a conclusion, and part of the goal is to understand that no conclusions are required or even possible, in this subject or elsewhere. The major issues include whether habitable planets around other stars are commonplace, how likely or unlikely life is elsewhere (based on theories and evidence about the origin of life on earth), whether we should expect life to commonly develop into complex organisms, and toward creatures possessing "intelligence," language, technology, etc. (and whether we actually understand these terms, and whether they are even universal among terrestrial humans), speculations concerning the nature and lifetimes of alien civilizations, strategies for communication with extraterrestrials, interstellar travel, and the question of whether we have been visited by extraterrestrials. Please note from the outset that the course is highly interdisciplinary by nature, and that only a fraction of the material (maybe a quarter to a third) is directly astronomical.



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26 August 2008
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
prospective student inquiries: studentinfo@astro.as.utexas.edu
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