Thursday, March 15, 2007

The lives of rocks, whale songs and why many common ideas about SETI just aren’t true

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 - Scientists are refining a technique to pin down the dates of events in the lives of rocks, including the collisions of contents or a rock's journey through the crust of the Earth. See
g Life - Using virtual robots that possess evolvable genomes, researchers have identified key factors that may play important roles in determining how communication arises in the evolution of social organisms. See
g Intelligence - Deep below the ocean's surface, blue whales are singing, and for the first time, scientists think they know why. Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recorded the sounds and say they offer new insight into the behavior of the passenger jet-sized animals. See
g Message - Many common ideas about SETI just aren’t true, but that doesn't prevent them from popping up in popular articles, blogs, books, and even movies. Here are three of my favorite fallacies about SETI. See
g Learning - How are key concepts of astrobiology treated in science fiction? See Note: This article is from 2001 and intended to be used as part of a classroom lesson.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology/cultures? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for C.J. Cherryh’s series “The Foreigner Universe,” which includes “Foreigner” (1994), “Invader” (1995) and “Inheritor” (1996). The series traces our dealings with the proud Atevi from first contact, as the single ambassador they will allow on planet tries to prevent war.

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