Wednesday, December 20, 2006

‘Can We Make Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence?’, limits of life on Earth and alien contact’s affect on religion

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 Message - Although the title of “Aliens: Can We Make Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence?” by Andrew J. H. Clark and David H. Clark, may conjure up visions of “The X-Files,” this sensible book has more affinity with the movie “Contact.” Above all, it is a plea for continued support of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, presently conducted as the privately funded Project Phoenix due to the withdrawal of government backing. Although readers of other major books on this subject, such as the classic “Are We Alone?” by Paul Davies or the more recent “Probability One,” will be familiar with much of the material here, this is a solid primer for those new to the actual science involved in current efforts to find ETI. Read reviews.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: Who Can Live Here? Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Coming to more recent times, modern literature, through the genre of science fiction, abounds in speculation on life in the universe. Incorporating known science into its fabric, science fiction, by invoking alien worlds and alien beings, attempts to extrapolate to unknown science by defamiliarizing the conventional assumptions we make about our environment and ourselves. It tries to make us see the consequences of where our science is leading us, to speculate on the destiny of mankind. Darwin’s theory of evolution, Einstein’s theory of relativity and the second law of thermodynamics provide fertile ground on which to allow the seeds of imagination to grow. See
g Aftermath - Could religions survive contact with extraterrestrials? The Medieval Church didn't think so, as the discovery would challenge mankind's central role in the cosmos. Today such ideas are considered old fashioned, and many theologians welcome the discovery of life — even intelligent life — among the stars. But if scientists were to find microscopic Martians or a signal from another world, would established religions really take it in stride? For a discussion, check out this past program of SETI’s “Are We Alone?” at Note: An mp3 player is required to play the audio files; you can download one at the site for free.