Sunday, May 14, 2006

Sol’s nearest neighbor, water on Mars, promise of space tourism

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - What is the closest star system to Earth, and might it support habitable planets? See
g Abodes - Layered terrains on Mars discovered by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft bear a striking resemblance to sedimentary deposits here on Earth that form under water. Liquid water is scarce on Mars nowadays, but it might have been common four billion years ago. If these Martian layers turn out to have a watery origin, as some scientists suspect, they could hold the key to the mysterious history of water (and maybe even life) on the Red Planet. See
. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Life - If "E.T." is out there, whether in the form of intelligent beings or much simpler organisms, we may soon be hot on its trail. For the first time in history, the dream of searching for signs of life in other solar systems belongs not only on the philosopher's wish list but also on the list of doable and planned human endeavors. See Note: This article is from 2002.
g Intelligence - Dartmouth researchers are learning more about the effects of alcohol on the brain. They've discovered more about how the brain works to mask or suppress the impact that alcohol has on motor skills, like reaching for and manipulating objects. In other words, the researchers are learning how people process visual information in concert with motor performance while under the influence of alcohol. See
g Message - A lot of science fiction doesn’t offer a particularly accurate description of SETI. Here’s one piece that does: Robert Sawyer’s “Factoring Humanity,” published in 1998 by Tor. In this novel, a radio message from the direction of the nearby star Alpha Centauri helps humanity get in touch with both another civilization and itself.
g Cosmicus - Until space tourism becomes a substantial business space activities, including particularly all crewed space activities, will remain a burden on taxpayers. But some argue that no activity other than tourism offers similar promise of turning space activities into profitable commercial activities in the foreseeable future. See
g Learning - In this interview, David Grinspoon talks about his job as the first-ever curator of astrobiology for a museum. While there are no alien artifacts yet available for display, there are many ways a museum can feature the various facets of astrobiology. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “Expedition to Earth,” published by Ballantine in 1953.
g Aftermath - How to predict reactions to receipt of evidence for an otherworldly intelligence? Some scientists argue that any unpredictable outcomes can only be judged against our own history. See