Sunday, July 16, 2006

Earth’s ever-changing climate, NASA’s next shuttle flight and aspiring satellite researchers

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Abodes - From 1850 to the 1970s, glaciers in the European Alps lost about 35 percent of their area. The melting then sped up, and now the 5,150 glaciers cover about 50 percent of the area they did in 1850. See For related story, see “Centuries Of Land-use Practices Profoundly Impact Earth System, Scientists Report” at
g Life - When Yuri Gorby discovered that a microbe which transforms toxic metals can sprout tiny electrically conductive wires from its cell membrane, he reasoned this anatomical oddity and its metal-changing physiology must be related. See
g Intelligence - Scientists find that moms consistently rank the stink of their baby's "number two" as No. 1. See
g Cosmicus - NASA and the Russian space agency are discussing launch options that almost certainly will shorten the launch window for the agency's next shuttle flight. It now is expected to open Aug. 27 or 28 and may close a week or so earlier than planned because of a requirement to provide time for the station crew to sleep shift between the departure of a U.S. space shuttle and the arrival of a Russian Soyuz capsule. See
g Learning - Thanks to Student Hands-on Training workshops, aspiring satellite researchers can trial-run payload ideas by getting a lift from skyward-soaring balloons. SHOT activities are ongoing at the NASA-funded Colorado Space Grant Consortium at the University of Colorado. See