Sunday, November 19, 2006

Ulysses solar mission milestone, the Great Silence and how we can become a spacefaring civilization

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 Stars - On Friday, the Ulysses solar mission reached another important milestone on its journey: the start of the third passage over the Sun's south pole. Launched in 1990, the spacecraft is engaged in the exploration of the heliosphere, the bubble in space blown out by the solar wind. See
g Message - Will universal fear doom SETI to a continuation of the Great Silence? In a response to David Brin’s Zoo Hypothesis argument (see, here’s a SETI League editorial:
g Learning - Have you ever wanted to build your own world? Now you can! Go to The Web site offers step-by-step information and hundreds of links to help you design your world while providing rubrics to guide projects in PowerPoint and Web page authoring programs.
g Imagining - Looking for some classic science fiction alien movies? There’s a fairly exhaustive list, with brief explanations of each, at Now in how each one the aliens really are just mythical monsters that play on human psychology (specifically fear or revulsion). Such films really say less about the evolution of potential extraterrestrial lifeforms and civilizations than about the evolution of human beings and our culture. In fact, here’s an essay that examines a specific detail of that notion: “An Exploration of the Relationship Between Science Fiction Film and the UFO Mythology,” at
g Aftermath - Look for an intriguing book to read: “Space, the Final Frontier?” by G. Genta e M. Rycroft. Published in 2003. The book primarily examines how we can become a spacefaring civilization, but it does include an interesting chapter about life in the universe, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the Drake Equation, intelligent lifeforms, whether other lifeforms will be more like ET or Alien, and the possible humanoid characteristics of extraterrestrials. For commentary and a table of contents, see