Sunday, July 23, 2006

How many extraterrestrial civilizations exist in our galaxy, suborbital rocket shots for sale and the Pak of “Ringworld”

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 - NASA scientists have determined that the formation of clouds is affected by the lightness or darkness of air pollution particles. This also impacts Earth's climate. See
g Life - Like modern long-living birds and mammals, T. rex and other tyrannosaur species experienced high mortality rates as infants and young adults, with just a choice few surviving to maturity. See
g Intelligence - Consumer preferences for a brand can be increased over the competition by techniques used to manipulate memory. See
g Message - How many extraterrestrial civilizations exist in our galaxy? Frank Drake's now-famous equation makes an educated guess. Check out this video on the topic and make your own guess. See and look for “Multimedia.”
g Cosmicus - Business is on the upswing for UP Aerospace—a firm that is offering suborbital rocket shots of experimental payloads out of the Southwest Regional Spaceport site in New Mexico. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity that examines if yeast, a common yet tenacious microbe, can survive boiling water, salt, UV radiation and citric acid? Students find out for themselves by creating "Planets in a Bottle" which illustrate extreme conditions on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Could the Pak of Larry Niven's Ringworld universe possibly evolve? They've got a homepage to discuss that and other questions about the intriguing fiction alien race. See
g Aftermath - Some of the best discussion of the consequences of alien contact occurs in science fiction. Here’s a novel that ranks among the most important in that dialogue: Arthur C. Clark’s “Songs of a Distant Earth.” Look for it at your library or local used book store.