Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Enceladus’ organic brew, California’s pink slime and why you can’t hear aliens on your car radio

Enceladus’ organic brew, California’s pink slime and why you can’t hear aliens on your car radio
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 - Deep inside Saturn's moon Enceladus may be an organic brew, a heat source, and liquid water - all the key ingredients for life. But where does the heat come from on a small body made of rock and ice? A new model suggests radioactive elements within Enceladus may have jump-started the heating of the moon's interior. See
g Life - Pink slime at the surface of water trickling through an old mine in California is proving to be a treasure for researchers in their quest to learn more about how bacterial communities exist in nature. See
g Intelligence - Humans caught pubic lice, aka "the crabs," from gorillas roughly three million years ago, scientists now report. See
g Message - For more than 80 years, we’ve been sending radio (and eventually television) transmissions into space, allowing anyone in space to hear war reports from London, “I Love Lucy” reruns and our latest election results. So wouldn’t hearing aliens be as simple as turning on the radio? Here’s why not:
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Alien Safari.” New from NASA PlanetQuest, Alien Safari can be used in your classrooms or informal education settings to help kids discover some of the most extreme organisms on our planet, and find out what they are telling astrobiologists about the search for life beyond Earth. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Isaac Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves” (published by Ballentine in 1972).