Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More than asteroid needed to kill dinos, solar flares’ effect on human space missions and what an encounter with beings from another planet could mean

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 Life - There's growing evidence that the dinosaurs and most their contemporaries were not wiped out by the famed Chicxulub meteor impact, according to a paleontologist who says multiple meteor impacts, massive volcanism in India, and climate changes culminated in the end of the Cretaceous Period.See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.phpop=modload&name=News
g Cosmicus - Radiation may seem like a necessary energy input to sustain any biological ecosystem: warmth, light, photosynthesis depend on our sun. But is radiation an invisible enemy to finding life elsewhere, where a protective blanket does not shroud thinner atmospheres than our own? The recent damage that intense solar flares may have done to an orbiting Mars imager brings back the question of how to plan human missions to other planets. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/article711.html.
g Aftermath - If, as “The X-Files'” Fox Mulder might say, "The truth is out there," then the researchers running the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program are likely to be the first ones to find it. On the other hand, there are numerous people who believe they've already been in contact with aliens. National Geographic's video ”Phantom Quest: The Search for Extraterrestrials” studies the claims of both groups, ultimately seeking to reveal precisely what an encounter with beings from another planet could mean for humanity. See http://www.scifi.com/sfw/issue128/cool.html.