Online reading assignment: origin of life(?), are we alone? (NC campus)

Astronomy 210, fall semester 2012
Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, CA

Students have a weekly online reading assignment (hosted by SurveyMonkey.com), where they answer questions based on reading their textbook, material covered in previous lectures, opinion questions, and/or asking (anonymous) questions or making (anonymous) comments. Full credit is given for completing the online reading assignment before next week's lecture, regardless if whether their answers are correct/incorrect. Selected results/questions/comments are addressed by the instructor at the start of the following lecture.

The following questions were asked on reading textbook chapters and previewing presentations on the evidence for the origin of life on Earth, and the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

Selected/edited responses are given below.

Describe something you found interesting from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally interesting for you.
"Julia Child's Miller experiment apparatus. I watched a movie about Julia Child and because I had no idea she was interested in science at all. Hah!"

"Interesting but scary finding out that humans are fairly recent living creatures. I wonder what will be the next living things or people. Amazing how things change within a blink of an eye (relatively speaking)."

"Everything, I feel insignificant in the universe."

"We're sending out complex messages about ourselves. I thought we were just listening."
Describe something you found confusing from the assigned textbook reading or presentation preview, and explain why this was personally confusing for you.
"Life, man. Where we came from, and why?"

"The Drake equation. It looks like a long list of random letters and numbers put together. Who would come up with an equation that they can't find all the factors for?"

"Why there isn't evidence of the first forms of 'life.'"
Ask the instructor an anonymous question, or make a comment. Selected questions/comments may be discussed in class.
"How many more homework assignments do we have? If we have the maximum amount for homework assignments is there a point in doing the assignments, besides for our own good?" (One more, after this. And yes, you can't get more points after maxing out your homework score.)

"Can you give us all 'A's' on the Final Exam as a Christmas present?" (I can do better than that. I can give you all the gift of having the opportunity of earning an 'A' for Christmas. Unless you've been naughty. Ho ho ho.)

"What are your views on the 12/21/12 'apocalypse?'" (That is the purported end of the 12th Mayan 'long count' cycle. They have a base-20 counting system, so presumably there would be eight more long counts Check out how the Mayan calendar will roll over from the 12th to the 13th 'long-count' on December 21, 2012.)

"Do you believe there are other intelligent life forms besides us?" (Yes, I do. I would bet one dollar that there is an advanced technological civilization somewhere out there.)

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