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AST 309L · Search for Extraterrestrial Life    1   2   3   4  

Special requests

If you have any special request of any sort (excluding those not allowed, like lowering the grade cutoff), please put the request in writing, preferably by email, or call me on the phone. Please state clearly and explicitly your request and why it is reasonable. Include a phone number so that I can contact you about your request.

Obviously (I hope) this procedure does not apply to minor requests such as "Could you write a little larger on the board?," etc. Any suggestions for improvement of the class as we proceed will be greatly appreciated.

water on mars? Attendance

Although I will not take attendance records because of the class size, you should keep in mind that the exams are based heavily on the lecture material (as well as the textbook and other readings), and that the "notes" that I will make available to you are only outlines or abstacts of my lectures. The biggest single danger in this course is to fall far enough behind, either through lack of reading or spotty attendance, that you cannot really understand the material being covered. I therefore urge you to attend all classes.

Dropping the course
(see and General Information, ch.4, for details of required approvals).


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.


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 the 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 for Monday updates)

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 Fall. This is free and open to the public. Call phone number listed above for current times.

Course Description (please read carefully)

This course is generally concerned with interdisciplinary issues surrounding the possibilities and implications of extraterrestrial life and intelligence. These 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 evolve toward creatures possessing "intelligence," language, technology, etc. (and whether we actually understand these terms), 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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28 January 2004
Astronomy Program · The University of Texas at Austin · Austin, Texas 78712
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