The Search For Extra Terrestrial Life
UNIV 241, 3 credits
FALL TERM, 2012
Instructors: Dr. Shivanthi Ananadan; Dr. Lloyd Ackert; Dr. Kevin Egan.
Are we alone in the universe? Answering this question and the search for extraterrestrial life (ET) has and continues to inspire a wide range of scientific research and philosophical discussions. This course, the first of four in this year's topic "Frontiers in Science," discusses ET science ranging from exotic microorganisms, exobiology, and space exploration. A wide range of philosophical examinations provide the context for this work, including on the origin of life, the meaning of intelligence (human and alien). Sitting at the boundary of science and science fiction, this topic necessarily engages revolutionary and controversial theories and programs including Lovelock's Gaia Theory, Margulis's Symbiogenesis, and the CETI (Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program. Through the writings, films, and presentations of experts working actively on these topics, we will explore the search for alien life. Course discussions and projects will guide us in understanding how this search both reflects and changes how we perceive ourselves as individuals, a species, and planet. That is, they help us answer 'who are we'?