Saturday, November 04, 2006

History of Martian water, ancestor of chordates and what blast-off does to your blood pressure

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 - A conference on Mars Polar Science recently met in Davos, Switzerland. By studying the poles, scientists are learning about the history of water on the planet, and how that has affected Mars' potential for life. See article.
g Life - Genetic analysis of a worm-like creature retrieved from the depths of the North Atlantic sheds light on the ancestor of chordates, backboned animals that include human beings. This study confirms that the common ancestor of chordates didn't have a brain, but rather a diffuse neural system in the animals surface. This finding, which implies that the brain might have evolved independently more than twice in different animal lineages, has implications for our understanding of how intelligence evolves. See http://www.astro
g Cosmicus - What do you think blast-off does to your blood pressure? When Alan Shepard became the first American to fly in space 37 years ago, Project Mercury scientists had to invent an automatic measuring device to find out. Today, you can find the device in just about any drugstore for an instant check-up. It is just one of an ever-growing number of medical spin-offs from space. See Note: This article is from 1998.