Saturday, December 30, 2006

Microbial life where no life was imagined before, ‘Is Anybody Out There?’ and social impact of discovering life elsewhere

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 - Are there places on Earth devoid of life? One of the most barren spots on the planet is above the tree line, where glaciers strip the land of nutrients and life. But enough dissolved organics may flow in melting streams to point to microbial life where no life was previously imagined. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Learning - Here’s a great book for fourth- through sixth-grade kids: “Is Anybody Out There?” by Heather Couper, Nigel Henbest and Luciano Corbella. Of the book, one reviewer wrote: “Does intelligent life exist beyond our planet? This visually exciting examination looks at both the myth and the science related to the question. The authors, both British science writers, describe what alien lifeforms might look like, how we might communicate with them, and the impact the discovery of extrasolar planets has had on the development of scientific equipment. The book is organized into 17 appealing photo-spreads, comprising color photographs, detailed captions and boxed insets that contain information about a scientist or about a historic scientific event, or suggested activities for would-be scientists. The inclusion of a "count the alien civilizations" foldout board game is a bonus.” See
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Robert L. Dragon's "Egg" (1980), which describes life on a neutron star.
g Aftermath - With humanity now on the verge of being capable to leave its home world, Earth, scientists have begun to wrestle with the consequences of this next great journey; of the social impact humanity will have upon discovering life elsewhere, be it fossil, bacterial or an intelligent civilization. See
. Note: This article is from 1999.