Sunday, May 28, 2006

Local Interstellar Cloud, our giant ape neighbor and space biology

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - In recent millennia, the Sun has been passing through a Local Interstellar Cloud. See
g Abodes - The hellish climate of Venus may have arisen far more recently than previously supposed, suggests new research. If so, pleasant Earth-like conditions probably persisted for 2 billion years after the planet's birth - plenty of time for life to have developed. See Note: This article is from 2003.
g Life - When most people think of Louisiana as being unique, they think of Mardi Gras, crawfish and Cajun culture. Few realize that what lies beneath the Gulf of Mexico along Louisiana's coast is also unique, from the terrain and habitat to the animals living there. And two LSU researchers are diving down some 3,000 meters to explore it. See
g Intelligence - A gigantic ape standing 10 feet tall and weighing up to 1,200 pounds lived alongside humans for over a million years, according to a new study. See
g Message - Several big hunts are seeking radio and laser emissions from other civilizations. From Project Phoenix to SETI@home, here's a complete rundown of all the searches now under way or recently conducted. See
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
g Learning - There are some great teacher resources on space biology at The modules cover such topics as “Life in the Universe,” “Radiation Biology” and “Life in Space Environments.” Each module includes an introduction, readings and references, teaching resources and research and applications.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Murray Leinster’s short story "This Star Shall Be Free," anthologized in “Invaders of Earth” (edited by Groff Conklin and published in 1952).
g Aftermath - Book alert: Award-winning author Paul Davies, an eminent scientist who writes like a science fiction novelist, explores the ramifications of successful contact with alien life in his fascinating book, "Are We Alone? Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life." "The discovery of a single extraterrestrial microbe," he writes, "would drastically alter our world view and change our society as profoundly as the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions. It could truly be described as the greatest scientific discovery of all time." Though a decade old, the book still is a great read. See