Saturday, January 20, 2007

600-million-year-old giant bacteria, orbital characteristics of a planet that could support Earth-like life forms and ‘Guide to SETI'

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 - What scientists had once identified as the oldest known animal eggs and embryos may have actually been 600-million-year-old giant bacteria. A new analysis of the microfossils may change our understanding of life's development on Earth. See
g Message - What’s it like to be a SETI astronomer, listening for alien radio signals? See Note: This article is from 2000.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: “Interstellar Real Estate.” The lesson examines what makes Earth the perfect home for life as we know it as students explore the orbital characteristics a planetary home needs to support Earth-like life forms. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Marc Bilgrey’s "Random Acts," in the anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff (published by DAW in 1997).
g Aftermath - Book alert: Pick up “Beyond Contact: A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations,” by inventor and software developer Brian McConnell. The book examines whether and why we might find something out there, who's doing what to look for it and — once some ET picks up on the other end — what we might say and how we might say it. This last problem, which occupies the final half of the book, proves to be the most thought provoking. See

for reviews.