Astrobiology and the Quest for Life in the Universe

Astrophysicist Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D., introduces the emerging field of astrobiology, harnessing contemporary science to address age-old questions about whether and where life might exist on other planets.

Since the dawn of time, humans have looked to the skies and wondered if we are alone in the universe. Astrobiology is an emerging discipline that draws on the powerful tools of astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry and geology to shed light on this question. Astrobiologists seek to identify conditions necessary for life and determine where in the universe those conditions are likely to arise. The overarching goal is to discover whether our small blue planet and the life it supports are common, rare or perhaps even unique in our galaxy and in the larger universe. Join astrophysicist Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D., to learn about the birth and death of stars; the formation of planets; the evolution of life on Earth and the conditions that appear necessary for this process; the locations scientists think are most promising for extraterrestrial life; and the experimental techniques used to search for life on other planets.

Image: Helix Nebula, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Section Instructor Format Schedule start date
GHUM1502.F18.1 Christopher Johns-Krull On-campus 7-8:30 p.m. Monday, September 17, 2018

Instructor: Christopher Johns-Krull

Christopher Johns-Krull, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Rice University. His research focuses on observational studies of star and planet formation, with a particular emphasis on the search for extra-solar planets orbiting very young stars. Teams led by Dr. Johns-Krull announced the discovery of a hot Jupiter orbiting a 2-million-year-old star. They also found evidence that a hot Jupiter orbiting another young star is being evaporated by intense radiation from the star. Dr. Johns-Krull has also taken part in the discovery of several additional hot Jupiters orbiting middle-aged stars like the sun.

Term: Fall 2018

Start Date: Sept. 17, 2018

End Date: Oct. 22, 2018

Schedule: 7-8:30 p.m.

Length: Six Mondays

Location: Rice campus

Fee: $190

Early Registration: $180 if registering by Sept. 3

Rice Alumni: $171

CEUs: 0.9

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