|AST 309L · Search for Extraterrestrial Life
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, either in person, by phone, or by email.
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 the Spring Semester 2005 Academic Calendar
and General Information, ch.4, for details of required approvals).
The College of Natural Sciences adheres strictly to the published deadlines of the University.
4th class day: Dropping courses electronically: During the first four class days, students may add and drop courses using
TEX, the Telephone Enrollment eXchange or the world wide web with ROSE.
12th class day: Last day to drop a class with possible refund: During days five through twelve (Feb.2, 2005) students may
drop courses by phone, but must go to the department offering the course to seek permission to add a course. Be advised that some
departments do not allow adds/drops after the fourth class day. For those departments that do allow adds/drops, the add-transactions
before the twelfth class day will be processed by terminal in the respective department.
20th class day: Deadline for dropping a course without possible academic penalty: The deadline for dropping a course without
possible academic penalty is the end of the fourth class week (Feb. 14, 2005 for the spring semester). During this period a Q is automatically
assigned but no refund is provided. If at all possible a substantial course grade should be assigned by this deadline to assist students in
making an informed decision about dropping a course.
40th class day: Last day to drop a course, for urgent and nonacademic reasons, with Dean's approval: After the end of the fourth
week of class, and until the deadline for dropping courses (March 28, 2005, for the Spring semester), a student wishing to drop a course
will get the forms from the Dean's Office (WCH 1.106) and ask the instructor to complete the drop form that assigns a Q or an F. The symbol
Q indicates an average of C or better at the time of the drop, or that no grade has yet been assigned, or that due to the student's performance
and the nature of the course, no academic penalty is in order, or that for documented non-academic reasons, no academic penalty is in order.
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.
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 or see http://outreach.as.utexas.edu/public/viewing.html
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 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.