Saturday, February 25, 2006

Circumstellar habitable zone, microscopic aliens on Earth and superhumans

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 - In a galaxy filled with billions of stars, scientists searching for alien life need some way to pick out those which are most likely to harbor habitable planets and moons. For more than 150 years, an important tool in this screening process has been the concept of a "circumstellar habitable zone." See article.
g Abodes - A special study group has advised NASA that Venus is far too hellish of a world for life to exist on or below the planet’s surface. Furthermore, while the potential for life in the clouds of Venus can’t be ruled out, the expert panel gauged this possibility as extremely low. See article.
gLife - Are there aliens living on Earth? Not the humanoid kind, with big eyes or glowing fingertips. But unfamiliar types of microscopic life, that doesn't use DNA. Geology professor Peter Ward thinks its possible. His new book, “Life as We Do Not Know It,” explains why. See reviews.
g Intelligence - Today at 7:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, the population here on this good Earth is projected to hit 6.5 billion people. See article.
g Message - When the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched in 1977, they each included a gold-plated phonograph record (a "golden record") of natural sounds, greetings in human voices, and a variety of music. The record cover has symbolic instructions that show how to use and understand the record, though scientists still debate whether other civilizations will be able to decipher them. For info on Voyager’s golden record, see article. Here's an explanation of the record cover diagram, and here's an interactive module that contains greetings, sounds, and pictures included on the record (requires Flash plug-in).
g Cosmicus - Lockheed Martin announced Wednesday, in partnership with the State of Florida, its plans to locate final assembly and testing of the Crew Exploration Vehicle at Kennedy Space Center if the company wins the CEV competition. See article.
g Learning - It’s a familiar chestnut: "the dinosaurs would be around today if they only had a space program." Of course there’s truth in this. If the lubberly lizards that once stomped the planet had rocket technology, they might have deflected the 5-mile diameter asteroid that speedily incinerated them and subsequently starved most of what remained. But the simple is: Science education is good for the survival of the species. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Robert L. Forward’s novel “Dragon's Egg,” published by NEL in 1980.
g Aftermath - How can we predict reactions to proof of an otherworldly intelligence? Some scientists argue that any unpredictable outcomes can only be judged against our own history. See article.

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