PHY 700 Current Trends in Physics: Astrobiology
University of Pretoria, 2013

Course Handouts

Course Outline and Overview (PDF)

Course Syllabus (PDF)

Article Discussion Guidelines (PDF)

Final Project Information (PDF)

Final Exam Revision (PDF)

Course Material

Class Date
Paper to be discussed
Monday, September 30
Introduction (PDF)
Wednesday, October 2 Solar System: Orbits and Temperature (PDF)
Origins of a Habitable Universe (30 pp, PDF)
K. Plaxco & M. Gross, Astrobiology 2e (2011)
Friday, October 4 Exoplanets (PDF)
On the possibility of Earth-type habitable planets around 47 UMa (8 pp, PDF)
Cuntz et al 2003, Icarus 162, 214-221
Monday, October 21
Habitability of Planets (PDF)

Origins of a Habitable Planet (27 pp, PDF)
K. Plaxco & M. Gross, Astrobiology 2e (2011)
Tuesday, October 22
Guest Lecture: Extreme Environments (PDF)
Prof. Don Cowan (Genetics, UP)
Course Announcements (PDF)

Monday, October 28
Exoplanet Habitability (PDF)
Water Planets in the Habitable Zone (11 pp, PDF)
Kaltenegger et al 2013, Astrophysical Journal Letters 75, L47
Wednesday, October 30
Prebiotic Chemistry (PDF)
On the Evolution of the Standard Amino Acid Alphabet (6 pp, PDF)
Lu and Freeland 2006, Genome Biology 7, 102.
Thursday, October 31

Friday, November 1

Monday, November 4
Origin of Life (PDF)
Habitability on Mars from a Microbial Point of View (11 pp, PDF)
Westall et al, Astrobiology 13, 887-897
Wednesday, November 6
Interstellar Travel, Crackpots, and Grab Bag (PDF)
Directed Panspermia  and  SARS - A Clue to its Origin (9 pp, PDF)
Crick & Orgel 1973, Icarus 19, 341-345
Wickramasinghe 2003, The Lancet 361, 1832.

Problems Sets

Problem Set #1 - Exoplanet Detection, due October 25

Other Reading

W. Bains 2004, Many Chemistries Could be Used to Build Living Systems, Astrobiology 4, 137-167.

Weber and Miller 1981, Reasons for the Occurrence of the Twenty Coded Protein Amino Acids, J. Molecular Evolution 17, 273-284.

Henry Throop /
Last updated: 12 Nov 2013