Posts Tagged ‘aliens’

Are there other life forms in the Universe? I can’t answer that question, as I haven’t spotted any UFOs over North Wales recently, but I can direct you to some library resources at Bangor University where you can begin exploring this question.

There is a short article by Rami T.F. Rekola called Life and habitable zones in the universe, in the journal Planetary and Space Science, Volume 57, Issue 4, April 2009, in the Science Direct database, accessible from the library’s list of multidisciplinary resources (once into the database, type Rekola into the author search field at the top of the screen). “In order to establish habitability we must first define what constitutes life. This is not a trivial question. There are many definitions of life in the literature, and most if not all of them can be shown to have faults or at least be inconsistent with some existing forms of life. One might argue the question is partly philosophical.” (Rekola, 2009).

You could also consult an electronic book, which you can read in full online, at the university or from home, such as Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Louis N. Irwin’s 2008 book, Life in the universe: expectations and constraints, or Peter Ulmschneider’s 2006 book, Intelligent life in the universe: principles and requirements behind its emergence. Search in the library catalogue for the keywords “life” and “universe”.

Alternatively, search the library catalogue for astrobiology, the name given to this field of study, and you will find even more resources, including an article in a 2009 issue of the International Journal of Astrobiology (Vol 8, No 1, pp51-61), by Carlos F. Oliveira and James P. Barufaldi called Aliens are us. An innovative course in astrobiology. This is about a course in astrobiology taught to non science students at the University of Texas, using the subject of alien life in the universe to pique their interest in science. The journal is in the Cambridge Journals Online database, accessible from the multidisplinary resources list (once into the database, type Aliens Are Us into the search box on the top right).

Aliens Are Us summarises some of the thinking and teaching covered by the course, giving a fascinating overview of the relevant issues for non scientists interested in this subject. “The course starts with a historical perspective to understand how the idea of extraterrestrial life originated and evolved. Then, a series of factors, important in determining whether extraterrestrial life is possible, are examined. Next, the course focuses on the ‘search for aliens’ and ‘trying to contact them’, and the question of whether Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials is approached critically. Finally, the course discusses the importance of science fiction in society and its impact on the current extraterrestrial life framework.” (Oliveira & Barufaldi, 2009, p52).

Several more electronic books on the subject show up in the library catalogue when searched using the keyword astrobiology, or you can hunt for a large printed book housed in the university’s Deiniol Library, edited by Iain Gilmour and Mark A. Sephton, and called An introduction to astrobiology. You can also view sections of this book online via Google Books.

The library has a list of astronomy journals we subscribe to.

There are more articles and resources about alien life, astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to be found in the library collections, so if you’re researching this subject or just interested, email  v.zarach@bangor.ac.uk for more suggestions.

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