Astrobiology: Looking for Life in the Cosmic Ocean

Winter Quarter, 2022

Thursdays, 1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

D. Astrobiology: Looking for Life in the Cosmic Ocean Shane L. Larson, Research Professor, Associate Director of CIERA, Department of Physics and Astronomy

Humans have speculated for centuries that, perhaps, Earth is not the only haven for life in the Cosmos. Hollywood has speculated wildly that life may exist in many places, in many imagined forms. But it is only in the last few decades that scientists have begun to explore the question of whether or not we are alone in the Universe. The discovery of planets around other stars, the discovery of life in exotic and inhospitable environments on Earth, and a growing (but still incomplete) understanding of how life on Earth works have all come together to make a new body of knowledge called “astrobiology.” In this course, we’ll survey human thinking about life in the Cosmos, from our historical and fictional speculations, to our current scientific ideas, and what possible future discoveries might hold in store.

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