Edinburgh University is planning to enroll thousands of students this month on a course to learn how to search for aliens.
The university has joined some of America’s top institutions in launching a series of free online courses – including an Introduction to Astrobiology and the Search for Extra-terrestrial Life.
The course will discuss such questions as: what are the possibilities for intelligent life elsewhere? How would society deal with contact with aliens, and who would represent Earth?
Hopefully the course may also teach the basics of photography so that future tales of close encounters are not accompanied by blurry, out-of-focus shots of dots in the sky.
Some of the more typical UFO shots: The typical ‘saucer’ images are normally on the blurry side
Edinburgh is the first university in the UK to join the consortium, set up by professors at Stanford University, California, to provide free online undergraduate-level courses to anyone who wishes to access them.
Other top universities offering courses include Princeton University, Berkeley and the University of California.
The aliens course – led by Charles Cockell, Professor of Astrobiology at Edinburgh and Director of the UK Centre for Astrobiology – will explore the origin and evolution of life on the Earth and its potential to exist elsewhere, as well as the possibility of intelligent alien life and the implications of its detection.
Prof Cockell said: ‘Over two thousand years ago, the ancient Greeks wondered if other worlds were habitable. In the coming years this question will be experimentally tested.