200-Level Course Descriptions
A focused investigation of the possibility of life arising elsewhere
in our Galaxy, and the chances of our detecting it. In this course,
pairs of students will explore the astronomical and biochemical
requirements for the development of Earth-like life. We will consider
the conditions on other planets within our solar system as well as on
newly-discovered planets circling other stars. We will also analyze
the famous "Drake Equation," which attempts to calculate the expected
number of extraterrestrial civilizations, and attempt to evaluate its
components. Finally, we will examine current efforts to detect signals
from intelligent civilizations and contemplate humanity's reactions to
a positive detection.
A writing-intensive course.
- Tutorial sessions to be arranged.
- Evaluation will be based on tutorial
papers and participation.
- Open to sophomores, juniors and seniors.
- Prerequisites: Astronomy 111; or
Chemistry 151 (or 153 or 155) and 156; or Biology 101 and 102, or equivalent science
preparation. Enrollment limited to 10. Preference given to
students who have had Astronomy 111. Instructor's permission required.
This course will introduce techniques for obtaining and analyzing astronomical data. We will begin by learning about practical observation planning and move on to discussion of CCD detectors, signal statistics, digital data reduction, and image processing. We will make use of data we obtain with our 24-inch telescope, as well as data from other optical ground-based observatories and archives. We also learn about and work with data from space-based non-optical observatories such as the Chandra X-Ray Observatory the Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared).
Format: lecture/discussion plus computer work and observing.
Evaluation will be based on weekly problem sets, and hour exam and an observing project.
Prerequisites: Math 105 or 106. Prior experience with Unix is helpful, but not required.
Enrollment limit: 10.
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