I am taking an option module called “Life in the Universe”, it is taught by Prof Sims and Dr Burleigh and is about where we would most expect to find life and how we would detect it. Prof Sims teaches the first half of the course which is about things such as extremophiles, the origin of life, and non-carbon based lifeforms. It seemed weird studying these kind of things, because I haven’t done biology since GCSE, but don’t let this put you off you; it doesn’t get too complicated. There were lots of new, interesting things I learned in this half of the module. For example their are bacteria that can hibernate inside of salt crystals for 250 million years. That’s insane!
The second half of the module, taught by Dr Burleigh, is to do with exoplanet detection. Both Prof Sims and Dr Burleigh are experts in what they are teaching. In this module I learned the benefit of having the people who do research the subject they are teaching you. During one of our lectures Dr Burleigh told us that their were 3529 confirmed exoplanets, he then corrected this number to 3530 because literally the day before he and his colleges published a paper announcing their exoplanet discovery (NGTS-1b). The planet they discovered is very interesting because the planet is nearly as big as the star it is orbiting. I read this interesting article by Sky at Night Magazine about it: click here to read it.
“Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.”
-Arthur C. Clarke