Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Atmospheres of M-dwarf planets, friendly soil bacteria and spectrum environment of the Allen Telescope Array

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 - An international team of astronomers have collaborated to create the most detailed image ever produced of the Rosette Nebula (NGC 2237), a giant stellar nursery. The new image was assembled using data from INT Photometric H-Alpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane and covers four square degrees of sky, equivalent in size to about twenty times the size of the full moon. See article.
g Abodes - Planets orbiting in the habitable zone of M dwarf stars are subject to high levels of galactic cosmic rays, which produce nitrogen oxides (NOx) in Earth-like atmospheres. See
g Intelligence - Exposure to friendly soil bacteria could improve mood by boosting the immune system just as effectively as antidepressant drugs, a new study suggests. See http://www.
g Message - Here’s something neat albeit technical: A slide show presentation of "Spectrum Environment of the Allen Telescope Array":
g Learning - Here’s a great educational tool for teaching astrobiology and various principles of science: COTI. COTI is an educational experiment in creation — students design an integrated world, alien life form and culture, and simulate contact with a future human society. One team constructs a solar system, a world and its ecology, an alien life form and its culture, basing each step on the previous one and utilizing the principles of science as a guide to imagination. The other team designs a future human colony, planetary or spacefaring, "creating and evolving" its culture as an exercise in cultural structure, dynamics and adaptation. Through a structured system of progressive revelation, the teams then simulate — and experience — contact between the two cultures in real time, exploring the problems and possibilities involved in inter-cultural encounters. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read David Bischoff’s "The Xaxrling of J. Arnold Boysenberry," anthologized in “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff (published by DAW, 1997).
g Aftermath - Alien encounters and science fiction permeate pop culture, but what would it really mean if scientists found life beyond Earth? If even a single-celled organism on another planet was discovered, for many, this would be the last thread of evidence proving that life is simply chemistry. See Note: This article is from 2003.