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Astronomy 141 - Life in the Universe - Autumn Quarter 2009

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Rank #169 in Courses category

Education
Courses
Science
Natural Sciences
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Astronomy 141, Life in the Universe, is a one-quarter introduction toAstrobiology for non-science majors taught at The Ohio State University.This podcast presents audio recordings of Professor Richard Pogge'slectures from his Autumn Quarter 2009 class. All of the lectures were recorded live in 1005 Smith Laboratory on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus, Ohio.

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Astronomy 141, Life in the Universe, is a one-quarter introduction toAstrobiology for non-science majors taught at The Ohio State University.This podcast presents audio recordings of Professor Richard Pogge'slectures from his Autumn Quarter 2009 class. All of the lectures were recorded live in 1005 Smith Laboratory on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus, Ohio.

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Astronomy 161 & 162

By CPGguy - Oct 03 2017
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Excellent, educational and entertaining!

Thank you

By Aaronjw84 - Nov 15 2012
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Thanks for these podcasts. Been listening to them for 9hrs straight now :D

iTunes Ratings

102 Ratings
Average Ratings
86
8
4
1
3

Astronomy 161 & 162

By CPGguy - Oct 03 2017
Read more
Excellent, educational and entertaining!

Thank you

By Aaronjw84 - Nov 15 2012
Read more
Thanks for these podcasts. Been listening to them for 9hrs straight now :D
Cover image of Astronomy 141 - Life in the Universe - Autumn Quarter 2009

Astronomy 141 - Life in the Universe - Autumn Quarter 2009

Updated 2 days ago

Read more

Astronomy 141, Life in the Universe, is a one-quarter introduction toAstrobiology for non-science majors taught at The Ohio State University.This podcast presents audio recordings of Professor Richard Pogge'slectures from his Autumn Quarter 2009 class. All of the lectures were recorded live in 1005 Smith Laboratory on the OSU Main Campus in Columbus, Ohio.

Rank #1: Lecture 41: Interstellar Travel and Colonization

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If we ever detect life elsewhere, how will we go visit? This lecture
considers the challenges of interstellar travel and colonization. The
problem is one of basic physics (the enormous energy requirements of
star flight) coupled with the vast, irreducible distances between the
stars. I will describe various starship concepts that use reasonable
extrapolations of current technologies (nuclear propulsion and solar
sails), ignoring for our discussions science-fiction exotica like
faster-than-light drives and wormholes. My interest is in the
scientific aspects of the problem, not an exploration of speculative
fiction. I then turn to interstellar colonization, and how even
a relatively modest star-flight capability might allow a determined
civilization to colonize the entire galaxy very rapidly. This has
implications for how we might interpret the results of Drake Equation
type arguments about the frequency of intelligent life in the Galaxy,
and leads to the Fermi Paradox that will be the topic of the next
lecture. Recorded live on 2009 Nov 25 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on
the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Nov 25 2009

45mins

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Rank #2: Lecture 3: Imagining Other Worlds

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What is the cultural history of our imaginings of other worlds and their
possible inhabitants? I will draw examples from history, philosophy,
literature, cinema, and popular culture. In the end,
our imaginings about other worlds inform us more about ourselves, our
hopes and our fears, than about extraterrestrial life. The scientific
inquiry we are undertaking must therefore approach the problem from a
different direction. Recorded live on 2009 Sep 25 in Room 1005 Smith
Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Sep 25 2009

40mins

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Rank #3: Lecture 2: Astronomical Numbers

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An introduction and review of the basic notation and physical units we will be
using throughout this course. In particular, we will be using the
Metric (SI) system for lengths, masses, times, and temperatures, and
special astronomical units for distances (AU and Light Years) and masses
(Earth Masses and Solar Masses) appropriate when discussing
interplanetary and interstellar scales. Recorded live on 2009 Sep 24 in
Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State
University.

Sep 24 2009

43mins

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Rank #4: Lecture 40: SETI - The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

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Is anybody out there? This lecture reviews the ideas behind SETI, the
Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, an effort to find other
intelligent communicating civilizations by tuning in on their radio or
other electromagnetic communications. I will discuss the basic
approaches being taken by various SETI efforts, and what we expect to
find. In addition to listening, we have also been broadcasting,
intentionally or otherwise, messages into space, and we have sent
physical artifacts with descriptions of our home on robotic spacecraft
headed out of our solar system into interstellar space. Recorded live
on 2009 Nov 24 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of
The Ohio State University.

Nov 24 2009

46mins

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Rank #5: Lecture 20: The History of Life on Earth

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In this lecture we step back and look at the history of life on Earth
from the first signs of life at start of the Archaean Eon 3.5 billion
years ago to just up to the present day. We will review the appearance
of photosynthesis and the rise of oxygen in the atmosphere in the
Proterozoic, the appearance of the first eukaryotes and sexual
reproduction, and the Cambrian explosion of plant and animal species at
the start of the Phanerozoic Eon, and briefly review the changes in life
to the present day from the Cambrian Explosion to the colonization of
land by plants and then animals. Most of the lecture will be where most
of the time was spent, in the early, microbiological Earth. Recorded
live on 2009 Oct 21 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus
of The Ohio State University.

Oct 21 2009

47mins

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Rank #6: Lecture 19: The Origin of Life on Earth

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How did life arise from non-life? Frankly, we don't know, but current
experimental work is aimed at trying to understand how it might work in
biochemical terms. This lecture sets out the problem of "abiogenesis",
and describes our current thinking about the likely origins of life on
Earth. We will review the classic Miller-Urey experiment, and look at
its insights and limitations, discuss meteoritic sources of amino acids,
and the basic requirements needed for protolife. I will then describe
in outline two scenarios that are active areas of origins research: the
RNA World model and the Metabolism First model. Finally, I will very
briefly mention Exogenesis and Panspermia, which don't really address
the problem of abiogenesis so much as move it elsewhere. Recorded live
on 2009 Oct 20 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of
The Ohio State University.

Oct 20 2009

46mins

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Rank #7: Lecture 39: The Drake Equation

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How many intelligent, communicating civilizations live in our Galaxy?
We have no idea. One way to approach the question and come up with
quasi-quantitative estimates is the Drake Equation, first introduced by
radio astronomy Frank Drake in the 1960s. I will use the Drake equation
as an illustration of the issues related to the question of
extraterrestrial intelligence, and to set the stage for future lectures
on the likelihood of finding other intelligences in our Universe.
Recorded live on 2009 Nov 23 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the
Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Nov 23 2009

45mins

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Rank #8: Lecture 4: The Copernican Revolution

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Modern science was borne of an effort over many centuries to understand
the motions of celestial bodies. The Copernican Revolution of the 16th
and 17th centuries was the crucial moment in history when we finally
understood the nature of celestial motions, and opened the door to the
modern world. This lecture reviews the problem of celestial motions,
the two competing models for explaining them, and the final revolution
in thought starting with Copernicus and ending with Newton. Mid-lecture
my classroom AV system lost power, and the recovery slowed things down a
bit. These are recorded live, after all. This lecture was conducted on
2009 Sep 28 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The
Ohio State University.

Sep 28 2009

43mins

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Rank #9: Lecture 6: The Geological Revolution - Deep Time and the Age of the Earth

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The geological revolution revealed that the Earth is of great antiquity
and yet has a history we can read in the land. We will discuss ideas
of cyclic and linear time, historical versus physical age estimates,
the discovery of geological time, and
radiometric dating methods that give us our present estimate of
4.54+/-0.05 Gyr for the age of the Earth. Recorded live on 2009 Sep 30
in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State
University.

Sep 30 2009

46mins

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Rank #10: Lecture 21: Impacts and Extinction

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We end our exploration of life on the Earth with a look at death in the
fossil record. This lecture looks at the role asteroidal impacts have
played in the history of the Earth, and their possible role in mass
extinction events in the fossil record. We will discuss near-earth
asteroids, historical impacts, and the K-T event in which a massive
asteroid impact caused a mass extinction of species that included all
non-avian dinosaurs among its victims, opening up the biosphere to the
dominance of mammals. We'll look at other mass extinctions during the
past 500Myr, and talk about whether extinction-class impacts are in our
future. Recorded live on 2009 Oct 22 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on
the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 22 2009

46mins

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Rank #11: Lecture 8: The Cosmological Revolution - The Depths of Space and Time

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Cosmology is the study of the entire Universe as a physical system. The
past century has witnessed a revolution in cosmological thought that has
revealed the vastness of space and the depths of cosmic time, a revolution
that is still playing out in the present day. The lecture will review the
Earth's place in the Universe, the age of the Universe as reckoned by the time
since the Big Bang, and the origin of the elements. We will return to
many of these topics later in the course, but this presents the big
picture. Recorded live on 2009 Oct 2 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on
the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 02 2009

46mins

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Rank #12: Lecture 5: The Chemical Revolution and the Nature of Matter

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What is the nature of matter, and how did we come to understand the
chemical elements and atomic structure? This lecture is a brief and
selective overview of the history of our understanding of the nature of
matter and chemistry. We will also introduce spectroscopy and
radioactivity, two very powerful tools that came out of the chemical
revolution that are crucial for the inquiry in this class into the
question of life on other worlds. Recorded live on 2009 Sep 29 in Room
1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State
University.

Sep 29 2009

45mins

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Rank #13: Lecture 27: Is There Life on Mars?

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Is there life on Mars? We begin with a brief historical survey of the
idea of inhabitable Mars, from Herschel to Lowell, and look at how the
idea of Mars and Martians is deeply embedded in the popular culture.
We then turn to spacecraft explorations of Mars, and how they have changed
our view of the Red planet. We will discuss the on-going search of Martian
life, past and present, particularly the Viking 1 and 2 experiments, the
Allan Hills Meteorite controversy, Mars Methane, and recent important
results from the Phoenix lander. We'll end by briefly noting future
directions in Mars exploration.
Recorded live on 2009 Nov 2 in Room 1005 Smith
Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Nov 02 2009

47mins

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Rank #14: Lecture 18: The First Living Things on Earth

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What are the first recognizable forms of life that we find in the
geological record? How far back can we go in geological time and still
find life? This lecture reviews three lines of evidence that have
emerged in recent years to suggest that life may have emerged very early
on the young Earth, perhaps within a few hundred million years of the
end of the epoch of heavy bombardment. I will describe fossil
stromatolites, microfossils, and carbon isotope data that are used to
explore these questions. Recorded live on 2009 Oct 19 in Room 1005
Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 19 2009

46mins

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Rank #15: Lecture 33: The Deaths of Stars

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What happens to a star when it runs out of hydrogen in its core? This
lecture describes the post main-sequence evolution of stars. What
happens depends on the star's mass. Low mass stars swell up into Red
Giants, and eventually shed their envelopes and end their lives as white
dwarf stars. High mass stars become Red Supergiants, and if large
enough, end their lives in a spectacular supernova explosion that leaves
behind a neutron star or black hole. The explosion itself creates
massive quantities of heavy elements, which then seed interstellar space
with metals to be incorporated into subsequent generations of stars.
Recorded live on 2009 Nov 12 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the
Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Nov 12 2009

47mins

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Rank #16: Lecture 24: The Jovian Planets

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We turn our attention to the Giant Planets of the outer Solar System:
the gas giants Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giants Uranus and Neptune.
We will review their structure and properties, and then examine their
systems of moons, with special attention to the giant moons. While the
Jovian planets themselves seem unlikely places to hunt for life in our
Solar System, a few of their largest moons may be more promising than
appears at first sight. We'll explore this further in subsequent lectures
in this unit. Recorded live on 2009 Oct 28 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory
on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 28 2009

47mins

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Rank #17: Lecture 11: The History of the Earth

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How have we pieced together the geological history of the Earth?
This lecture reviews the different types of rocks and the cycle
of transformation between them, with particular emphasis on stratigraphy.
I will outline the 4 major Eons in Earth's history, and focus on the
earliest Hadean Eon which proceeded from the formation of the Earth to
the end of the epoch of Heavy Bombardment. The Hadean Eon saw the formation
of the primordial atmosphere of the Earth and the formation of the Oceans.
Recorded live on 2009 Oct 7 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus
campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 07 2009

42mins

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Rank #18: Lecture 37: Strange New Worlds

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What are the properties of the 400+ exoplanets we have discovered so
far? This lecture reviews the properties of exoplanets, and finds a
couple of surprises: Jupiter-mass planets orbiting close to their parent
stars, and Jupiter-mass planets in very elliptical orbits. Both seem to
require some mechanism for migration: strong gravitational interactions
with either the protoplanetary disk or other giant planets to cause the
planets to move inward from their birth places beyond the "Ice Line".
We will then briefly discuss why we are seeing systems very different
from our own, mostly we think a selection effect due to our search
methods to date. Microlensing, however, is more sensitive to systems
like ours, and is starting to find them. Earths, however, remain
elusive so far, but the hunt is on. Recorded live on 2009 Nov 18 in
Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the Columbus campus of The Ohio State
University.

Nov 18 2009

46mins

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Rank #19: Lecture 23: Terrestrial Worlds in Comparison

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We follow our tour of our Solar System with an in-depth comparison of
the Terrestrial Planets. In particular, we want to contrast and compare
their geological and atmospheric histories. This will inform our
inquiry into whether or not we expect to find life on these worlds.
Recorded live on 2009 Oct 27 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the
Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Oct 27 2009

46mins

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Rank #20: Lecture 35: The Solar Neighborhood

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What stars are near the Sun? Now that we have some idea of what we are
looking for - rocky planets in the habitable zones of low-mass
main-sequence stars - what are the prospects near the Sun? This lecture
examines the hunting ground for planets, the nearby stars that make up
the Solar Neighborhood. I will describe our nearest neighbor, the
Proxima Centauri/Alpha Centauri triple system, and then look at the
properties of our nearest stellar neighbors. What we will find is that
G-type stars like the Sun are uncommon, only about 7% of all nearby
main-sequence stars. Red dwarfs, on the other hand, are very common,
about 75%. To find Sun-like main sequence stars, we will have to extend
our search to larger distances into our Milky Way galaxy proper.
Recorded live on 2009 Nov 16 in Room 1005 Smith Laboratory on the
Columbus campus of The Ohio State University.

Nov 16 2009

46mins

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