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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Crash Course Astronomy: Everything, the Universe … and Life

By Phil Plait


Forty-eight episodes, more than eight hours of content, 100,000 words, a year and a half of work, topics ranging from quantum fluctuations to the death of the Universe, and 12 million views … finally, here we are.

The final episode of Crash Course Astronomy.

When I put together the syllabus for the show, I found it helped to be flexible as the scripts got written; galaxies got split into two episodes, as did cosmology (at least, dark matter and energy). We had 45 episodes listed for a long time, and I left one slot open Just in Case. And then, last summer, I figured out what it should cover and placed it as the final one in the series, because that’s where it should be.

So I present to you the final episode of Crash Course Astronomy: Everything, the Universe ... and Life.

I think I pretty much covered how I feel about UFOs in this episode—that is, dismissive until actual evidence shows up. If you want more, I’ve written about this before, and answered a question during a public talk about it, too.

Still, it’s fun to think about alien life, and while I wrote about it in my book Death From the Skies! (in the context of how aliens might attack us, including the likelihood of infestation of alien viruses and bacteria), it’s a rich vein, and I really enjoyed writing this episode, especially since I could include a bit about my old friend Seth Shostak.

If there’s life in space, we may know soon, whether it’s from intelligent species who want to chat, or being able to detect biological signatures in the atmospheres of exoplanets. I expect that it won’t be a big, sudden announcement like it usually is in the movies, but more of a “what have we got here” kind of thing, slowly building more evidence over time.

Either way, what a time that will be.

But my time, Crash Course speaking, is up. With a full series behind me, it’s time to move on to whatever’s next for me (I’m working on some ideas; stay tuned). And if I may indulge myself …

I want to thank everyone involved in making Crash Course Astronomy. That means Hank Green, who invited me to host; Derek Muller, who relayed the question; my editors Nicole Sweeney and Blake De Pastino; director Nick Jenkins; sound designer Michael Aranda (he scored the music based on the CC music from other series); my wonderful friend and science consultant Michelle Thaller; the folks at Thought Café for their wonderful animations; and all the nerds at Sci Show who put up with me sitting in their room muttering and eating up their Wi-Fi after we’d finish recording for the day.

My biggest thanks goes out to all of you who watched the show. I hope you got to see a bigger picture of the Universe from it, and found a new way to appreciate it.

Being a part of Crash Course has been an extraordinary honor, and one that I cherish. Thank you.

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