|ASTR 230||Section 1||Spring 2004|
You have chosen a great time to take this course. The search for extraterrestrial life is making larger and larger strides. In the last 10 years, we have gone from knowledge of only 9 planets around only our Sun to 100s of planets around many suns. In the near future, NASA will have missions that may find signs of life on Mars or Earth-like planets around nearby stars or life under the oceans of Europa or other exciting discoveries. In this course, you will get an understanding of arguably the biggest astronomical question of all time: Are we alone? We will address this question with scientific methods, but also perhaps with some philosophy and science fiction thrown in too.
My goal for a graduate of this course is that they will understand our current scientific view of life in the universe, propose what the future may hold for the field, and hold any discovery of extraterrestrial life to a personal scientific standard of proof.
This class is designed to be fun. It will endeavor to teach the student about extraterrestrial life, but it will also combine various topics together. This course will revolve around an equation (discussed in Chapter 1 of the text) called the "Drake Equation". The Drake Equation looks like an attempt to calculate how many intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations exist with whom we might be able to communicate. However, the equation actually helps us understand our ignorance about the subject and illuminates the various topics and issues worth thinking about when we ask the question, "Is there life out there?", with an open mind.
After some introductory material to get us thinking about what we mean by life, we review some basic astronomy, which I'm hoping you will remember from your introductory astronomy classes. After that, we cover topics in: planetary and solar system astronomy; biology and biochemistry; geology, paleontology, and evolution; some more detailed planetary astronomy; history and the future of mankind on Earth; and finally, interstellar communication and travel, including UFO's. In addition, the class presentations will allow us to ad venture wherever the interests of the class take us. Take part in the journey, and let's enjoy the ride!
This course gives 3 hours credit. Students must have taken Astr 100, 121, 122, or 210.
|Requirement||Percentage of Grade||Points|
|Class Participation (best 5 of 7)||5 x 1% each||5%||50|
The following table shows the approximate grading scale in this course.
The ranges are approximate in that I may have to adjust them if, for example, I give an exam that is a little too hard. In any case, I will not increase the minimum cutoffs for each letter grade.
Neal Evans, Extraterrestrial Life, 5th edition, 2003. This is a nice book (really three ringed binder sheets) that is priced low.
You are expected to attend the lectures. I will cover material here that will not always be in the text, and the lecture material will be included on the exam. In addition, the class will grade each other's oral presentations, so regular attendance to these is very encouraged.
Class time is the most valuable for you if you come prepared, having done the reading and ready to actively engage the material. To encourage your engagement, the lectures will often be punctuated by opportunities for your feedback, in the form of asking questions, "voting" on the possible outcomes of observations or demonstrations, or brainstorming answers to open-ended questions. To reward your participation in these activities, you will occasionally be asked to write down and hand in your response.
These participation surveys are not "quizzes" in the usual sense, in that you are not required to get all answers right. Rather, to get full credit you simply must offer a scientifically reasonable response. The point of this is that the survey is always an opportunity to gain points as long as you are actively engaged, even if you are still a little confused. Indeed, the most difficult and potentially confusing subjects are precisely those that most require you participation!
Each survey is worth 10 points. Of these, your name is worth 5 points, while you will receive the remaining 5 points for any scientifically reasonable (but not necessarily correct!) response. There will be a number of these through out the semester, but only 7 will be handed in for credit and your total participation score will be the 5 best of 7. This means that you can miss 2 surveys without penalty.
Students may give these talks in any way that they chose-- powerpoint, overheads, slides, etc. The grade for the presentations will be determined from audience questionnaires that will ask questions like "How relevant is the topic?" or "Rate the quality of the presentation?.
How to Reference Sources from the WWW: Below are two basic forms of referencing sources from the WWW from Electronic Styles: A Handbook for Citing Electronic Information, 2nd ed.
(1) Author/editor. (Last update or copyright date). Homepage Title [Homepage of ...], [Online]. Available: URL [Access Date] Ex. Looney, L. W. (2003, 21 Jan-last update). Astronomy 230 - Extraterrestrial Life [Homepage of Astronomy 230 Spring 2004, Astronomy Department, Univ. of Illinois], [Online]. Available: http://eeyore.astro.illinois.edu/~lwl/classes/astro230/spring04 [2004, January 21].
(2) Homepage Title[Homepage of ...], [Online]. (Last update or copyright date), Available: URL [Access date].
You should adhere to the following rules when citing web pages: (1) When author or editor is not available, use the second basic form. (2) Treat homepages as edited or compiled works, non-serial in nature. The names of the sites and services should be treated as proper nouns. (3) If citing an editor or editors as the first element, include a note "Ed." or "Eds." in parentheses. (4) Indicate the last update of the homepage if available. Otherwise, give the copyright date. (5) Provide a note indicating the information supplier in the form of "Homepage of information supplier." (6) It is not necessary to repeat the protocol (HTTP) on the WWW after the "available" statement since it is stated in the URL.
If a source is used in any form, reference it. Keep in mind that I have access to google as much as you do. Academic honesty is vital! See the Academic Integrity and Collaborative Work section below.
Exams will be one midterm exam and a comprehensive final exam for this course. The exams will consist of short answer essay and multiple-choice questions. Dates are as follows.
Academic honesty is essential to this course and the University. Any instance of academic dishonesty (including but not limited to cheating, plagiarism, falsification of data, and alteration of grade) will be documented in the student's academic file. In addition, the particular exam, homework, or report will be given a zero.
Guidelines for collaborative work:
Discussing course material with your classmates is
in general a good idea, but
each student is expected to do his or her own work.
On homework, you may discuss the questions and issues
behind them, but you are responsible for your own answers.
In writing observing and planetarium reports, you
may discuss with classmates during the activity, but again,
you are must give your own answers in your
Finally, on exams
your work and your answers must of course be your own.
For further info, see http://www2.illinois.edu/admin_manual/code/rule_33.html.
To insure that disability-related concerns are properly addressed from
the beginning, students with disabilities who require reasonable accommodations
to participate in this class are asked to see the instructor as soon as