University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Phys 1910W.001

Freshman Seminar: Writing Intensive: ET life

Session: Spring 2015 (1/20-5/08)
Instructor: J. Woods Halley (e-mail: woods @
Time: 1220 TTh
Location: NoRmReq

This course will study the various scientific issues that arise in considering the question of whether extraterrestrial intelligence is likely to exist in our galaxy and whether humans are likely to detect it. We will read a series of articles by distinguished experts on various aspects of the question, leading to an analysis of various factors in the 'Drake Equation', which provides a model for estimating the number of existing civilizations in the galaxy. Estimates of the these factors involve huge uncertainties, but something definite can be said about most of them and the discussion ranges over a great many disciplines including physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry, archeology, and sociology. There will be a brief discussion of the quality of the evidence that extraterrestrials have been observed as claimed by the UFO community. This will occasion a discussion of what constitutes scientific evidence.

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