The Search for Life's Origins

assignments & actvities
a March/Apr 2004 NCSSM Mini-term Course

We will focus on the origins of life on Earth
and the likelihood that life arose elsewhere in the universe.

The course will begin with a discussion of the origin of the earth and
the solar and terrestrial surface, atmospheric, and interior conditions
that may have been present and conducive to the rise of Earth life.

We will then investigate the various origin-of-life scenarios
that attempt to explain the synthesis of biological organic molecules
and the evolution into their counterparts today.

In addition, the formation of the first cells and evolution
of prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells will be discussed.

We will apply what we have learned to intelligent speculation about
the existence of life elsewhere in the universe,
including critical examination of recent “evidence” for past life on Mars;
non-carbon based life forms; life in exotic places (extreme cold, thermal vents, etc.);
life on the recently discovered 100+ planets orbiting other stars.

Finally, we will address the issue of how we might communicate with
or otherwise recognize intelligent life elsewhere.

The class will be a mixture of independent reading, class discussion, activities, labs, and student presentations.

Although we have ideas for activities and much of the content for this experience, we want your ideas!
Let us know what topics we should be sure to include and why!

any other activities (not required) that we should consider or sponsor?
a visit to the morehead planetarium's Life In the Universe?
or finding your planet at the school obseervatory?

click here to send us ideas!!


web links