Thursday, 20 August 2009

S283: Book2 - An introduction to astrobiology

Book 2 starts to get to some biology, and leave behind some of the geophysics, so its more in my comfort zone.
  • Chapter 1 starts by looking at the origin of life on earth. What it needs in terms of components, how it might have started and the clues left behind both fossil and molecular.
  • Chapter 2 looks at environments for life, and considers the habitable zone around the sun.
  • Chapter 3 is all about Mars, and the various attempts to find life there, including the notorious Martian meteorite.
  • Chapter 4 looks at the possibility of life on icy moons such as Europa and other places.
  • Chapter 5 is devoted to the moon Titan.
  • Chapter 6 is about exoplanets, those planets orbiting other stars and mostly about how they are detected.
  • Chapter 7 looks at exoplanets as possible habitats for life, and some of their properties that may aid or otherwise life development.
  • Chapter 8 looks at the potential to detect life on exoplanets from Earth, and the technology required for that to take place.
  • Chapter 9 considers SETI and CETI, interaction with extraterrestrial civilisations and how we haven't had any, and why that might be.

Whilst I found the first few chapters interesting, and the exoplanet chapters happened to coincide with a IYA lecture locally that was excellent, I found the book rather seemed to fizzle out at the end., or maybe it was me that fizzled out.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

S170: Darwin and Evolution

Its been a while since I did a short course, but I have 20 points of hole in my degree and this is one way to fill it.
So I signed up, and its arrived. What you get is
  • An S170 Study guide - a booklet that tells you where stuff is and how to get to it. Increasing the material is online now.
  • Help with short courses leaflet
  • The 99% Ape book - looks good - not too bad at 244 pages. Lots of colour pictures and diagrams, so looks good.
  • S170 DVD, Darwin and evolution. It includes episodes from the series Jimmy Dohery in Darwin's Garden on it.
  • Assessment handbook
As with most short courses, there is only one written assignment, but it's not yet available as the course hasn't officially opened. Anyway, onwards with it (once I've finished my other course that is - oh maybe just a peek then...)