Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Space dust seedings, breath of clay and Mars Rovers working overtime

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Clouds of space dust may have seeded life not only on our planet but in countless other solar systems, a meteorite study suggests. See
. Note: This letter is from 2002.
g Abodes - According to a new study, clay made animal life possible on Earth. A sudden increase in oxygen in the Earth's recent geological history, widely considered necessary for the expansion of animal life, occurred just as the rate of clay formation on the Earth's surface also increased. See
g Life - It's a case of evolutionary detective work. Biology researchers at Lewis & Clark College and the University of Arizona have found evidence for an ancient transfer of a toxin between ancestors of two very dissimilar organisms - spiders and a bacterium. But the mystery remains as how the toxin passed between the two organisms. See
g Intelligence - Believe it or not, higher education is linked to a greater tendency to believe in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, according to a new study. See http://www.livescience.
g Message - Should we modify the Drake Equation to account for civilizations which actually engage in deliberate interstellar transmission? See
g Cosmicus - NASA's Mars rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, have been working overtime to help scientists better understand ancient environmental conditions on the red planet. NASA's third mission extension for the rovers lasts through September, if they remain usable that long. See
g Learning - If improving science and math education is suddenly a national priority, someone apparently forgot to tell the parents and the students. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Lester Del Rey’s “Outpost Of Jupiter,” published by Holt Rinehart in 1963.
g Aftermath - Here’s an interesting book that is slated for June publication: “Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials,” by Michael Michaud. This book describes a wide variety of speculations by many authors about the consequences for humanity of coming into contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumptions underlying those speculations are examined, and some conclusions are drawn. As necessary background, the book also included brief summaries of the history of thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence, searches for life and for signals, contrasting paradigms of how contact might take place, and the paradox that those paradigms allegedly create. See,11855,4-40440-22-72043535-0,00.html.