Saturday, October 29, 2005

Sunless ecosystem, disease in human evolution and life in Venus’ atmosphere

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 - Here’s a neat online guide, The Electronic Sky, to common stars visible from Earth: article.
g Abodes - A JPL scientist and his team are preparing to bring to the study of extrasolar planets what George Lucas brought to "Star Wars": the prequel. See article.
g Life - Biologists always thought life required the Sun's energy, until they found an ecosystem that thrives in complete darkness. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Intelligence - Genetic researchers have made substantial advances in understanding the root causes of common diseases and the history of human evolution, according to a series of reports published in scientific journals this week. See article.
g Message - Quote of the Day: "It is difficult to think of another enterprise which holds as much promise for the future of humanity." — Carl Sagan
g Cosmicus - Within the framework of general relativity and without the introduction of wormholes, is it possible to modify a space-time in a way that allows a spaceship to travel with an arbitrarily large speed? According to this technical paper, the answer is "yes".
g Learning - Although polls show about half of Americans still don't recognize the expression "Intelligent Design," the background and meaning of it are focal points of a landmark First Amendment case now unfolding in Pennsylvania's capital. See article.
g Imagining - A scientist at Washington State University says the first extraterrestrial life we find is likely to be single-celled organisms surviving on a moon of Saturn, or in the atmosphere of Venus. See article.
g Aftermath - While formal principles have been adopted for the eventuality of detecting intelligent life in our galaxy, no such guidelines exist for the discovery of non-intelligent extraterrestrial life within the solar system. Current scientifically based planetary protection policies for solar system exploration address how to undertake exploration, but do not provide clear guidance on what to do if and when life is detected. Considering that Martian life could be detected under several different robotic and human exploration scenarios in the coming decades, it is appropriate to anticipate how detection of non-intelligent, microbial life could impact future exploration missions and activities, especially on Mars. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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