Friday, December 08, 2006

Cyanobacteria’s rise on early Earth, why we stick with bad habits and NASA’s proposed Moon base

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 - At 27,000 square miles, the size of Ireland, Lake Victoria is the biggest freshwater body after Lake Superior. And it has dropped fast, at least six feet in the past three years, and by as much as a half-inch a day this year before November rains stabilized things. See article.
g Life - Researchers have long been puzzled as to how cyanobacteria billions of years ago could make the Earth’s oxygen without poisoning themselves. To avoid their DNA getting wrecked by a hydroxyl radical that naturally occurs in the production of oxygen, the cyanobacteria would have had to evolve protective enzymes. But how could natural selection have led the cyanobacteria to evolve these enzymes if the need for them didn't even exist yet? See
g Intelligence - It might seem a total wonder that a smoker won't quit after hearing that puffing away is a leading cause of death, or that an obese person can't shed a few pounds after learning that lethal ailments loom for the overweight. But scientists have come up with a host of reasons why humans stick to bad habits, and they are zeroing in on what to do about it. See
g Cosmicus - NASA’s new goal of establishing a 21st century Moon base will require bridge building while mending fences between space scientists and exploration technologists. See