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Over a series of six interactive assignments spread throughout the course, each student will write a final ~8 page essay on the probability of communicating with intelligent life somewhere in our Milky Way galaxy, combining both facts and personal opinion. The portions you write will become part of a working document that will combine into a single ~8-page essay, due on the last day of class (Wednesday, Dec. 7). Each of the six portions will generate written feedback from the teaching staff about content and writing style. You are expected to incorporate these suggestions in each subsequent version in order to demonstrate overall improvement in writing proficiency, leading to an excellent final document. Each submission must include all the prior portions that have been commented on for improvement and you must incorporate these comments into an ever-improving draft.
Here are some interesting links to articles about this topic. These and other references will be mentioned as you encounter each separate homework assignment.
Your essay will be worth 20% of your course grade. It should demonstrate correct understanding of the Drake Equation, Fermi-type thinking, and all the Communication and Numerical Daily Skills we will accumulate this semester. It will be graded according to the rubric used in the Writing Program of the Dept. of English: Content (45%), Organization (15%), [removed]15%), Mechanics (10%), along with demonstrated improvement during each of the prior six submissions (15%).
Submit your Introduction electronically via our D2L Web site. First, select the “Assignments” tab from the upper toolbar. Second, select the “Alien Essay Introduction” link. Third, upload your file by “Add a file.”
Maintain an electronic copy for yourself so you can continue to revise, and resubmit, your paper based on cumulative feedback from the teaching staff.
Schedule of due dates for sections of the required essay:
Sep 12 - Introduction and the Drake Equation
Sep 28 - Fermi-thinking and initial prediction
Oct 17 - Search techniques and NASA’s Kepler Mission
Oct 26 - Our “Solar Neighborhood,” exoplanets, and “Habitable Zones"
Nov 9 - Known unknowns
Nov 21 - The “Fermi Paradox” and our Milky Way galaxy
Dec 7 - SETI and personal reflection (final submission)
Over a series of six interactive assignments spread throughout the course, each student will write a final ~8 page essay on the probability of communicating with intelligent life somewhere in our Milky Way galaxy, combining both facts and personal opinion.