Saturday, April 15, 2006

Solar twin, life on Mars and Himalayan ecosystems

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Astronomers have discovered a nearby solar twin which may shed light on the search for planets that are similar to Earth and that may even support life. See
g Abodes - Life on Mars is currently unfeasible but probably existed millions of years ago, said Andrew Knoll, professor of natural history and earth and planetary sciences at Harvard University, in a recent lecture at Lehigh University. See
. For related stories, see “Wintering on Mars” at http://
and “Mars rovers head for new sites after studying layers” at
g Life - Mount Everest and the Himalayan mountain range conjure images of llamas and Sherpas loaded with heavy packs. But tucked into the cold shadows of the world's tallest mountain are biologically diverse hotspots filled with poorly known plants and animals found nowhere else on the globe. See
g Intelligence - Depending on which journals you've picked up in recent months, early humans were either peace-loving softies or war-mongering buffoons. Which theory is to be believed? See http://
g Message - Visiting another civilization on a distant world would be fascinating, but at present such a trip is beyond our capabilities. However, it is perfectly within our capabilities to develop a communications system using a powerful transmitter and a sensitive receiver, and using it to search the sky for alien worlds whose citizens have a similar inclination. See http://www.vectorsite.
g Cosmicus - Long before “astrobiology” was even a real word, scientists in Europe had started using space research to try and find answers to deep-rooted questions about life. From simple beginnings, the experiments became more complex and more ambitious. Looking at the effects of space on living systems, exploring new worlds for life or the building blocks of it, searching for habitable planets outside our Solar System; step-by-step Europe has developed a strong and diverse program of space research for astrobiology. See
g Learning - Here’s an interesting classroom activity: “Who Can Live Here?” Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Ralph Williams’ short story "Pax Galactica," published in the November 1952 Astounding magazine.
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See