Science Fiction, Science Fact

Juliane Gross (Earth and Planetary Sciences) and
Charles Keeton (Physics and Astronomy)

Aliens! Space ships! From War of the Worlds to Star Wars to The Martian, pop culture is full of wondrous ideas about what might be found beyond Earth. Just how far-fetched are they? In this seminar, we will examine the scientific underpinnings of many popular examples. We will introduce key concepts from astronomy, geology, and biology and use them to understand the search for life in the universe. We will then use some hands-on activities to consider what it would take for Martians to invade Earth - or vice versa. This course is appropriate for non-science majors; the only requirements are curiosity and willingness to engage a little technical material.