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Astronomy 309L - Spring 2003
Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Unique No. 45970 · TTH 8:00 - 9:30 AM · ENS 115


G.F. (Fritz) Benedict
Office: RLM 16.222
Phone: (512) 471-3448


Anirban Biswas
Office: RLM 16.307
Hours: TW 2-3
Phone: (512) 471-7460


Jacob Bean
Office: RLM 16.318
Phone: (512) 471-3466

Course Web Site
(Course site password available in class weekly)
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Course Description

Astronomy 309L is an elective course for non-science majors. The only prerequisites are a one-semester college-level introductory course in astronomy (Ast 301 or equivalent) or the permission of the instructor. In this course we will examine how science works as illustrated by astronomy, physics, biochemistry, geology, paleontology, and anthropology. We will explore our understanding of the formation and evolution of our Solar System, including the Earth. We will discuss the origin of life on the Earth and asses the likelihood of life elsewhere in our Solar System. We will learn how to discover planetary systems around other stars and review what is now known about those that have been discovered. We will learn how to choose the best stars to search for extraterrestrial life, and how to estimate the number of extraterrestrial civilizations in our Galaxy. We will investigate how to carry out radio searches for extraterrestrial life and how to communicate, if we find any. Lastly we will explore the possibilities of travel to the stars, ending with a critical assessment of UFOs.

Required Texts

The Search for Life in the Universe by Goldsmith and Owen.

Extraterrestrial Life - An Astronomical Perspective by Barnes and Benedict (available only on the class web site).

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13 January 2003
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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