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.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Life courses offered by Edingburgh University are fully academic.
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."
Today, Edinburgh was announced as the first university in the UK to join the Coursera consortium, an organisation set up by senior academics at
Stanford University to provide free online undergraduate level courses to anyone who wants to access them.
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
Black Hole In Scorpius Seen Firing Fast Cosmic Bullets
Located about 28,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Scorpius, there is a black hole named H1742-322.
Racing outward at about one-quarter the speed of light, "bullets" of ionized gas are thought to arise from a region located
just outside the black hole's event horizon, the point beyond which nothing can escape.
When Will Humans Join The Galactic Club?
Most people believe that humans will sooner or later establish open contact with aliens.
When it happens, we might get an invitation to join what scientists and science-fiction writers refer to as the "Galactic Club".
There is also a possibity that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations will not welcome us a new members.
Alien Message Can Be Hidden In Your DNA
Do We All Carry A Cosmic Greeting Card?
While SETI is busy searching for signals from alien civilizations, there are scientists who think we can find proof of advanced
extraterrestrial life much closer to home - namely in our DNA!
Instead of leaving artefacts for humans to find once they are sufficiently evolved, an advanced extraterrestrial civilizations
might instead incorporate information into the human genome, allowing it to be copied and maintained over immense periods of time.
Aliens Living On Methane Worlds
In the search for life elsewhere, many studies focus on finding liquid water. But what
if life could exist with some other solvent? Saturn's smoggy moon Titan makes scientists question the possibilities for methane-based life in the galaxy.
Alien Contact Scenario:
Would Contact With Extraterrestrials Benefit Or Harm Humanity?
"If contact between humans and ETI is possible, then it is important to consider the capability of ETI to cause us benefit or harm. This information is important across nearly the full breadth of contact scenarios," the authors explain.
"Although we cannot know the level of technological sophistication achieved by ETI, we do have a compelling reason to believe that ETI
would be significantly stronger than us and therefore highly capable of causing our total destruction.
Mysterious Signal From Outer Space
Is Someone Trying To Contact Us?
A mysterious signal coming from a region of space between the constellations Pisces and Aries has been picked up on three different occasions by
the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.
The signal is very puzzling and does not resemble any known astronomical phenomenon. Researchers who have studied its frequency pattern do not
believe it is natural interference or noise.
Alien Species Living In The Inner Milky Way Could Be In Danger
Few people doubt there is intelligent alien life in the Milky Way galaxy, but where can we expect to find it?
Astronomers think that while the inner sector of the MIlky Way Galaxy may be the most likely to support habitable worlds.
Unfortunately some of these places are also most dangerous to all life-forms.
The Eyes Of A Future Alien Astronomer - What Will They See?
Have you ever wondered what the Universe will look like for a future alien astronomer?
It will in fact be entirely different from what it is today.
One trillion years from now, an alien astronomer in our galaxy will have great difficulties figuring out how the universe began.
Black Plants Could Exist On Alien Worlds With Two Suns
We have previously seen what auroras might like on alien worlds.
This time we examine how life on planets in binary star systems can evolve.
Earth-like planets with two or three suns would have multiple sources of light that could be used for photosynthesis. This means plants on
such worlds could be dark, even completely black.