Are we alone in the universe?

“A single ear of wheat in a large field is as strange as a single [habitable] world in infinate space” – Metrodorus

This week I finished a course called Intro to Astrobiology by Professor Charles Cockell (of the UK Centre for Astrobiology at The University of Edinburgh) offered on Coursera.


An ancient field of thought that is concerned with the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. It pulls from many disciplines (chemistry, biology, astrophysics, etc).

  • How/why/where did life begin on earth?
  • What are the extreme limits of life (temperature, pressure, desiccation) on earth?
  • Are these limits universal? Can life exist in ways we haven’t concieved?
  • Is there life outside of earth? How can we go about finding it?

There are billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, many having planets; and we are only beginning to have the technology capable of inspecting them.

The Class

Each week a handful of short lecture videos were released as well as a couple of multiple choice quizzes. Meant as an introductory/teaser course, the videos offered an overview of the many disparate parts of the subject. Professor Cockell clearly finds the field fascinating and did a good job of connecting the topics together.

Is life sustainable outside of the comfort of the earth?

This may not be answered for a long time. But eventually, the earth will be unable to sustain life; whether through our own actions or because of the expiration of our sun. So it is imperative for us to explore these issues.

Are we alone in the universe? The answer is profound either way.


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