Monday, September 18, 2006

A planet unlike any other, Orion spacecraft and gauging reactions to evidence of otherworldly intelligence

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 - Using a network of small automated telescopes known as HAT, Smithsonian astronomers have discovered a planet unlike any other known world. This new planet, designated HAT-P-1, orbits one member of a pair of distant stars 450 light-years away in the constellation Lacerta. See
g Life - Scientists with NASA's Astrobiology Institute have discovered evidence that microbial life emerged on land between 2.6 billion and 2.7 billion years ago, much earlier than previously thought. See
. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Message - Unexplained or incompletely studied astrophysical phenomena such as odd star populations of the galaxy NGC 5907 or the asymmetry of increases and decreases in the brightness of long-period variable stars provide us with a number of locations that may be studied for signs of Dyson Shells. If we free ourselves from anthropocentric perspectives and combine the ideas of Dyson, Minsky and Suffern as well as the technological progress of recent decades, we can envision advanced civilizations at the limits of physical laws. Observations directed towards stars decreasing in visual magnitude or searching for stellar occultations by large cold dark objects, merit serious consideration as future strategies in optical SETI. See
g Cosmicus - Now that NASA has settled on Lockheed Martin to build the Orion spacecraft that will propel the agency back to the Moon, officials are mulling a new fleet of vehicles to monitor potentially hazardous space storms that could turn such a mission into disaster. See
g Learning - How are key concepts of astrobiology treated in science fiction? See Note: This article is from 2001 and intended to be used as part of a classroom lesson.
g Imagining - While science fiction can prove remarkably accurate on technological development, it falls well short of reality when it comes to biology and behavior. Many of the bug-eyed monsters we see depicted in movies, books and comics are not only very unlikely but also completely unfeasible. And aliens all too often are charmingly naive about such things as violence and love. See http://www.ibiblio./org/astrobiology/print.php?page=concepts01. Note: This article is from 2001.
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