Astrobiology: Is there Life on Other Planets?
This course will explore the basic chemistry of life, what we know about the early evolution of molecular life forms, and how this is related to three basic factors: energy source, liquid state, and organic molecules. How did these appear on the earth and function together to create life? Does the right combination exist on other objects both inside and outside our solar system? And if so, how can we detect life? In order to answer these questions we will consider what kinds of life forms exist on Earth and whether life on other planets would share similar characteristics, such as DNA and RNA. We will look at the role of asteroid impacts and comets in the evolution of life, the effect of Solar wind, and the role of the Earth's magnetic field and the Martian magnetic field. The course will include a field trip to the Rutgers Observatory or the Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium.