Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Powerful outburst from galaxy’s center, hydrogen peroxide Martians and estimating the frequency for communicating with an extrasolar civilization

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 - Like cold case investigators, astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to uncover evidence of a powerful outburst from the giant black hole at the Milky Way's center. See
g Abodes - Earth's inhabitants are used to temperatures that vary, sometimes greatly, between day and night. New measurements for three planets outside our solar system indicate their temperatures remain fairly constant - and blazing hot - from day to night, even though it is likely one side of each planet always faces its sun and the other is in permanent darkness. See
g Life - Researchers hypothesize that Mars is home to microbe-like organisms that use a mixture of water and hydrogen peroxide as their internal fluid. Such life forms could explain the results of the Viking biology experiments - before those experiments inadvertently killed the Martians. See
g Message - Estimating the frequency for communicating with an extrasolar civilization is a multi-dimensional challenge. The answer, according to two scientists at the Hungarian Astronomical Association, is less like an equation and more like a matrix. See
. Note: This article is from September 2003.
g Learning - Here’s a neat new set of afterschool activities for elementary school students: “Astrobiology.” This new resource guide from the American Museum of Natural History brings astrobiology activities to the afterschool arena. As part of an 18-month project, AMNH collected NASA materials originally developed for the formal education setting, and adapted them for use in afterschool programs for participants aged 5-12. Members of NAI's NASA Ames Research Center Lead Team served as science advisors to the guide. See http://www.amnhafterschool.pdf/.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Richard F. Monteleone and David F. Bischoff’s novel, “Day of the Dragonstar,” published in 1983.
g Aftermath - How to predict reactions to receipt of evidence for an otherworldly intelligence? Some scientists argue that any unpredictable outcomes can only be judged against our own history. See