Thursday, February 08, 2007

Diverse collection of galaxies, ‘Interstellar Messaging’ and ‘Aliens and Lingists’

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 - A new image from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope shows the diverse collection of galaxies in the cluster Abell S0740 that is over 450 million light-years away in the direction of the constellation Centaurus. See
g Abodes - Seismic activity is tearing Africa apart and scientists are geared up to watch the ripping landscape in an unprecedented set of observations. See
g Message - Here’s a neat Web site: “Interstellar Messaging.” You’ll find discussion, history and real-world examples of mankind's methods and ongoing attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials. See
g Cosmicus - NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft this month is set to surpass the record for the most science data returned by any Mars spacecraft. While the mission continues to produce data at record levels, engineers are examining why two instruments are intermittently not performing entirely as planned. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat new set of classroom activities, courtesy of NASA: “Microbial Life.” It’s a new, freely accessible digital library dedicated to the diversity, ecology, and evolution of the microbial world. Engage students with hands-on activities and other curriculum-based resources that cover topics such as astrobiology, bioinformatics, extremophiles, and the microbes of marine environments. See
g Imagining - Book alert: Here’s an oldie worth finding in a used bookstore: Walter E. Meyers’ “Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction.” It examines how science fiction treats aliens using languages, aptly pointing out fallacies and offering some intriguing speculations. See for a review.
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.