New online course: Emergence of Life


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Coursera has an online course called Emergence of Life. It starts on Monday, so be sure to enroll if you are interested. It’s free unless you want a certificate. The course is taught by Bruce Fouke Director of the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center and was created by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The course description:

How did life emerge on Earth? How have life and Earth co-evolved through geological time? Is life elsewhere in the universe? Take a look through the 4-billion-year history of life on Earth through the lens of the modern Tree of Life!

This course will evaluate the entire history of life on Earth within the context of our cutting-edge understanding of the Tree of Life. This includes the pioneering work of Professor Carl Woese on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus which revolutionized our understanding with a new “Tree of Life.” Other themes include:
-Reconnaissance of ancient primordial life before the first cell evolved
-The entire ~4-billion-year development of single- and multi-celled life through the lens of the Tree of Life
-The influence of Earth system processes (meteor impacts, volcanoes, ice sheets) on shaping and structuring the Tree of Life

This synthesis emphasizes the universality of the emergence of life as a prelude for the search for extraterrestrial life.

Who is this class for:
No specific background is required. You do need an open mind and an eagerness to apply critical free thought and approaches of scientific inquiry. This will enable you to explore how life on Earth came to be in its current form and whether there is life elsewhere in the cosmos.


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