Sunday, January 07, 2007

3-D map of dark matter, detecting an alien civilization’s thermal radiation and ‘A Case of Conscience’

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 Stars - An international team of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has created the first three-dimensional map of the large-scale distribution of dark matter in the universe. See
g Message - Our most efficient attempts to broadcast our planet's existence to another civilization would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars. By analogy, more advanced worlds would likely do the same, making our chances of listening in hard to distinguish from hearing stellar noise. See http://www.astrobio.
. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Learning - Here’s something fun for the kids: An “Alien Life” word find. It’s based on the Science for Kids article at
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology and cultures? Then be sure to read James Blish’s classic novel “A Case of Conscience” (1958), in which he explores if original sin exists among the Lithians. See
g Aftermath - Once scientists are certain that we’ve received a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization, how would we decide to respond? Read the proposal “A Decision Process for Examining the Possibility of Sending Communications to Extraterrestrial Civilizations”(, made at the International Academy of Astronautics meeting in Paris during 2000.