Monday, December 04, 2006

What astrobiologists would pack, Neanderthal cannibalism and NASA’s plan for a lunar colony

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 - You're an astrobiologist standing in the center of a vast, empty expanse of rock and dust pockmarked with impact craters. There's no water here, no life, but your task is to collect data important for the study of life in the Universe. Douglas Adams, in his book "A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," said that "a towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." In order to accomplish your task, you've packed an entire suitcase. The question is what did you bring? See
g Life - To survive the urban jungle, birds change their tune, with faster-paced and higher-pitched songs to make them heard above the din. This discovery, announced today, could help reveal which birds can adapt to life in the city and which can't, researchers said. See
g Intelligence - Neanderthals suffered periods of starvation and may have supplemented their diet through cannibalism, according to a study of remains from northwest Spain. See http://www.livescience.
g Cosmicus - NASA's return to the moon next decade will be focused on establishing a permanent base near one of the lunar poles to take advantage of near-constant sunlight for solar power, agency officials said. See