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1 Astrobiology: The Semester in Review HNRT 228 – FALL 2013 with Dr. Harold Geller.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Astrobiology: The Semester in Review HNRT 228 – FALL 2013 with Dr. Harold Geller."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Astrobiology: The Semester in Review HNRT 228 – FALL 2013 with Dr. Harold Geller

2 2 A Universe of Life zSearching for life everywhere zPlanets, stars, galaxies, Big Bang yConception of size and distance zStars and the origins of chemicals zFormation of planets zDefining astrobiology – the science

3 3 iClicker Question The nebular condensation model of the formation of the solar system suggests that __________ should condense closest to the Sun. AJovian planets Bmetals and metal oxides Csulfates Dices of water, methane, and ammonia Elow density materials

4 4 The Science of Life in the Universe zAncient cosmologies zScience as the way to know the universe zCopernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton zPseudoscience and nonsense

5 5 The Nature of Life zWhat is it? zCells zMetabolism zDNA zExtremophiles

6 6 iClicker Question Life on Earth is based on Asilicon chemistry. Bhelium chemistry. Ccarbon chemistry. Doxygen chemistry. Enitrogen chemistry.

7 7 The chemical building blocks of life are found throughout space zAll life on Earth, and presumably on other worlds, depends on organic (carbon-based) molecules zThese molecules occur naturally throughout interstellar space zOrganic molecules needed for life to originate were possibly brought to the young Earth by comets or asteroids, as well as being formed on Earth

8 8 The Geological History of the Earth zGeologic Timescale zPlate Tectonics zSolid Earth zGreenhouse Effect zRelative/Absolute Dating

9 9 iClicker Question The greenhouse gas effect occurs because Acarbon dioxide is transparent to visible light and opaque to infrared radiation. Bcarbon dioxide is transparent to infrared radiation and opaque to ultraviolet radiation. Cozone is transparent to ultraviolet radiation and opaque to infrared radiation. Dmethane is transparent to infrared radiation and opaque to visible light. Ethe sun emits more infrared radiation than ultraviolet radiation.

10 10 The Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth zOrigin of Life zProkaryotes zEukaryotes zOxygen in Air zImpacts & Extinctions zHuman Evolution

11 11 iClicker Question zWhich of the following companies or agencies has Prof. Geller NOT worked for in his employment history? yA – General Sciences Corporation yB – Science Applications Int’l Corporation yC – Research Data Systems Corporation yD – FBI yE – Defense Systems Inc.

12 12 iClicker Question zWhich of the following was NOT a title that Dr. Geller held in his life? yA – taxi driver yB – truck driver yC – priest yD – program manager yE – deputy director

13 13 zAnother likely source for organic molecules is chemical reactions in the Earth’s primitive atmosphere zSimilar processes may occur on other worlds

14 14 Searching for Life in the Solar System zEnvironmental Needs zIn the Solar System

15 15 Mars zScience Fiction zSearch for Life zMartian Meteorites zExploration

16 16 The Viking Lander spacecraft searched for microorganisms on the Martian surface, but found no conclusive sign of their presence

17 17 Two NASA rovers reached Mars in 2004 at locations that once had water

18 18 “Faces” on Mars

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22 22 From Curiosity briefing at AGU in S.F., CA 12/3/12 [ after much media hype that was a misunderstanding of statements made by NASA scientists] "SAM results show that the Rocknest sand drift does NOT contain abundant organics”

23 23 Meteorites from Mars have been scrutinized for life-forms zAn ancient Martian rock that came to Earth as a meteorite was examined for evidence that microorganisms once existed on Mars zThis has not been corroborated

24 24 Life on Jovian Moons zEuropa zTitan zOthers

25 25 Europa and Mars best potential for life to have evolved zBesides Earth, only two worlds in our solar system— the planet Mars and Jupiter’s satellite Europa—may have had the right conditions for the origin of life zMars once had liquid water on its surface, though it has none today zLife may have originated on Mars during the liquid water era zEuropa appears to have extensive liquid water beneath its icy surface yFuture missions may search for the presence of life

26 26 The Nature and Evolution of Habitability zHabitability Zone yPast, Present, Future

27 27 The Search for Habitable Worlds zPlanet Formation zExtrasolar Planets (>1000) yDetection Methods z“Earth-like” Planets

28 28 Infrared telescopes in space began searching for Earthlike planets zA new generation of orbiting telescopes may be able to detect terrestrial planets around nearby stars zIf such planets are found, their infrared spectra may reveal the presence or absence of life

29 29 The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence zSETI zDrake Equation

30 30 The Drake equation helps scientists estimate how many civilizations may inhabit our Galaxy

31 31 The Geller ETI Sex Equation? zConsider the number of ETI life forms with whom humans could successfully have sexual relations: zWhere: yS x = Number of ETI civilizations with whom humans could have sexual relations. yN = Number of civilizations in The Milky Way Galaxy with electromagnetic emissions. yf s = Fraction of ETIs with dextro sugar stereo-isomers. yf aa = Fraction of ETIs with levo amino acid stereo-isomers. yf cod = Fraction of ETIs with same codon interpretation. yf chr = Fraction of ETIs with same chromosomal length. yf mem = Fraction of ETIs with same cell membrane structure to allow egg penetration.

32 32 iClicker Question The Drake equation allows us to estimate Athe number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. Bthe number of stars in our galaxy. Cthe number of people on the Earth. Dthe lifespan of a civilization. Ethe lifespan of a species.

33 33 Interstellar Travel zHow realistic? yEngineering yLimited by c zRelativity and time dilation zWormholes and hyperspace?

34 34 iClicker Question What limitation(s) make it close to impossible to travel, round trip, between stars? I.Fuel requirements II.The tremendous distances between stars III.The finite speed at which objects can travel AI BI and II CIII DII and III EI, II and III

35 35 The Fermi Paradox zWhere are the aliens? zGalactic colonization zResolving the paradox

36 36 Contact – Implications of the Search and Discovery zCan we make contact yWhich kind 1 st, 2 nd, 3 rd zContact implications

37 37 Radio searches for alien civilizations are under way zNo signs of intelligent life have yet been detected ysearches are continuing and using increasingly sophisticated techniques zThe so-called water hole is a range of radio frequencies in which there is little noise and little absorption by the Earth’s atmosphere yscientists suggest that this noise-free region would be well suited for interstellar communication

38 38 If an alien civilization were someday to find this message, which of the features on the plaque do you think would be easily understandable to them?

39 39 20 Tips for Interpreting Scientific Claims zDifferences and chance cause variation zNo measurement is exact zBias is rife zBigger is usually better for sample size zCorrelation does not imply causation zRegression to the mean can mislead zExtrapolating beyond the data is risky zBeware the base-rate fallacy zControls are important zRandomization avoids bias zSeek replication, not pseudoreplication zScientists are human zSignificance is significant zSeparate no effect from non- significance zEffect size matters zStudy relevance limits generalizations zFeelings influence risk perception zDependencies change the risks zData can be dredged or cherry picked zExtreme measurements may mislead

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41 41 Astrosociology: A multidisciplinary study combining astrobiology and sociology

42 42 Astrobiology in One Sentence zThe universe is unimaginably large, and alive; you are not at the center of the universe; and, the way to know the universe is through science –Dr. Harold Geller HAVE A GREAT WINTER BREAK Don’t forget the FINAL – 12/16/13 1:30PM


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