Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Oxygen’s effect on evolution, ‘An Introduction to Astrobiology’ and ‘Extraterrestrial Contact Act’

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 Life - Scientists have found that the appearance of large animals in the Earth's history may coincide with a huge increase of oxygen in the world's oceans. The research yields further clues about how life has interacted with and evolved alongside the planet's changing environment. See
g Message - Here’s a neat radio interview on the program “Earth and Sky,” about scientists looking for evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth. See
. Note: The interview is from 2003.
g Learning - What are university students learning about astrobiology? Check out "An Introduction to Astrobiology." Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. The text contains numerous useful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. It is also supported by a Web site hosting further teaching materials. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students. It contains numerous helpful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. The book is also supported by a Website hosting further teaching materials. See http://www.sci
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read H.B. Fyfe’s short story "In Value Deceived," originally published in the November 1950 issue of Astounding magazine.
g Aftermath - What if, one day, Earth was contacted by an extraterrestrial civilization? How, as a planet, would we respond to their offer to interact? What if they asked, “Do you have a method in place, or even a policy that outlines how Earth will proceed now that contact has happened?” Here’s an organization that we believes we need in place legal protocol and has proposed the “Extraterrestrial Contact Act.” See