Saturday, August 27, 2005

Smallest genome, clashing sea anemones and trash bags pave way to Mars

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars - A star that has begun eclipsing every 48 days shows the remarkable time scales of stellar evolution. The eclipsing star may be “winking,” according to Harvard-Smithsonian astronomers, because of a protoplanetary disk that beckons a solar system coming of age. Such changes may give scientists a first-row seat to witness what usually eludes a lifetime of study: planets as they form. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Abodes - We are alive because untold trillions of microbes have lived. How the world's microbes - the planet's richest trove of life - survive and shape our world is the key to understanding the origins of life on Earth, scientists from the University of Colorado and elsewhere say. The $720 million Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that launched Friday is NASA's latest bet that the same holds true elsewhere. See article.
g Life - Researchers at Oregon State University and Diversa Corporation have discovered that the smallest free-living cell known also has the smallest genome, or genetic structure, of any independent cell - and yet it dominates life in the oceans, thrives where most other cells would die, and plays a huge role in the cycling of carbon on Earth. In nature, apparently, bigger is not always better. See article.
g Intelligence - Clashing colonies of sea anemones fight as organized armies with distinct castes of warriors, scouts, reproductives and other types, according to a new study. See article.
g Message - In 2004, SETI scientist Jill Tarter was selected by the editors of TIME magazine as one of the world’s 100 most “influential and powerful people.” This selection was based on her prominent role in the search for evidence of life beyond earth, as well as her efforts promoting scientific literacy. See article.
g Cosmicus - We all use plastic trash bags; they're so common that we hardly give them a second thought. So who would have guessed that a lowly trash bag might hold the key to sending humans to Mars? See article.
g Learning - Red Nova offers a great glossary of astrobiology terms. See glossary.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology/cultures? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for C.J. Cherryh’s series “The Foreigner Universe,” which includes “Foreigner” (1994), “Invader” (1995) and “Inheritor” (1996). The series traces our dealings with the proud Atevi from first contact, as the single ambassador they will allow on planet tries to prevent war.
g Aftermath - How might interested parties envisage the design of a human team to prepare for an encounter with aliens — and improve the operational guidelines for that eventuality? See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: