July 7, 2022

Astrobiology

The occurrence of life as we understand the concept in the Universe.

Vak 2021-2022 Admission requirements = None

Description

Astrobiology is the relatively NEW SCIENCE concerning the occurrence of life as we understand the concept in the Universe.

How it forms, evolve, and how it is distributed. Under what circumstances does it occur and how can it thrive or perish.

But why study astrobiology now?

We only have data from one place in the Universe where life definitely has emerged and currently occurs.

The answer is that Astrobiology is one of the most cross-disciplinary of sciences that we have come up with and that it offers a broad understanding of ourselves. It addresses some of the most profound issues of human consideration.

What is life?

How did it arise on the Earth?

How did it evolve?

Are we alone?

It connects science with philosophy and it may even have an impact on one of the big issues in human life today, i.e. climatic change.

Life beyond the Earth; Life in the solar system versus life in the Universe as a whole.

How can science help us answer the fundamental questions concerning how life originates? Where and how do we search for life outside the Earth?

Astrobiology is a new science – how does it establish itself as a discipline?

The ancient ideas (e.g. Plato), the Copernican revolution, Enlightenment vs religion, the modern ideas; 

Astrobiology turns into a science.

But it is also intended to be useful for students who have studied astronomy because it provides another perspective.

How did the Earth get an atmosphere and oceans? 

Early life and geology; Climate changes (natural) and its impact on life; Extinctions. What do we think will be the most interesting places to look for life outside the Earth? 

What have we discovered so far?

What is life? 

Cells and the chemistry of life; RNA and DNA life; Extremophiles – 

do they tell us something? 

The origin and evolution of life on the Earth.

Life in the solar system: How do you search for it on Mars, Jupiter’s or Saturn’s moons?

Course objectives

Complete overview of the basics of Astrobiology, as well as some idea about future developments.

Soft skills

Behaviour-oriented skills like:

Recognizing and analyzing problems, solution-oriented thinking

Analytical thinking, abstraction, evidence

Structure, modulated thinking, computational thinking, programming

Writing skills, reporting, summarizing

Adaptability, dealing with change, teachability, eagerness to learn

Critical thinking and asking questions, check assumptions

Creative thinking and resourcefulness, curiosity, 

thinking out of the box

https://studiegids.universiteitleiden.nl/courses/110262/astrobiology

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