The quest for alien life continues and now it is even possible to study the subject at a top University!
The six courses that are being offered are free and all available online!
Together with some of some of America’s top institutions, the University of Edinburgh is offering a series of free short online courses that include an Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extra-terrestrial Life.
Charles Cockell, a former research associate at the NASA Ames Research Centre in California and now professor of Astrobiology at University of Edinburgh, will be teaching and the course will focus on questions such as questions as: What are the possibilities for intelligent life elsewhere?
How would society deal with contact with aliens, and who would represent Earth, if and when contact is made? “Is there life on other planetary bodies? “How is it distributed throughout the Universe?
Why is the Edinburgh University launching a course dealing with extraterrestrial life?
“We took the decision to offer courses that reflect our specific strengths,” said Ranald Leask, a spokesman for the university. ”Something like extraterrestrial life comes out of a wide and deep base of knowledge and academic endeavour.”
“We have one of the world’s leading schools of Science and Engineering. You could see this [extraterrestrial life] as a more niche area within Science and Engineering.” Other top universities offering courses include Princeton University, Berkeley and the University of California.
What can students expect to learn?
Prof Cockell said: ‘Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks wondered if other worlds were habitable. In the coming years this question will be experimentally tested.
This course is an introduction to astrobiology. It explores the origin and evolution of life on the Earth and its potential to exist elsewhere. Astrobiology addresses compelling questions of wide interest such as: how did life originate on the Earth?
Is this an inevitable process and is life common across the Universe? We will look at some of the missions to search for life in our own Solar System and on planets orbiting distant stars.
We will discuss some of the extreme environments on the Earth that help us understand the limits of life and how life has adapted to cope with extremes. We will explore the possibility of intelligent alien life and some of the implications of its detection.”
Who can apply?
The courses will be will be free and run for five weeks with students from across the globe expected to be attracted to the subject.
“While you might have 100 students on campus, or 1000 on a distance learning course, here we’re talking about potentially 100,000 students,” said Professor Jeff Haywood, vice principal of University of Edinburgh.
The Search for Extra-?terrestrial Life – which is “fully academic” with students being awarded a certificate for passing – is among six courses initially being offered.