Thursday, April 26, 2007

Determining chances of extraterrestrial life, humongous fungus and ‘Anvil of Stars’

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 - Stunning simulations that give a multi-dimensional glimpse into the interior of stars show that material bubbling around the convection zone induces a rich spectrum of internal gravity waves in the stable layers above and below. See
g Abodes - When exposed to intense XUV fluxes, atmospheres with CO2/N2 mixing ratios lower than 96 percent will show an increase in exospheric temperatures and expanded thermosphere–exosphere environments. See
g Life - Scientists have solved a mystery surrounding one of the most unique organisms that ever lived on Earth. For more than a century scientists have been debating about whether the ancient organism is a plant or a fungus. Now researchers have used chemical evidence from fossils to solve the question once and for all. See
g Intelligence - Childhood memories might best be kept in a photo album, not in your mind. Turns out, storing old memories can make you forget an important appointment or what you needed to buy at the store today. See
g Message - The Allen Telescope Array, formerly known as the One Hectare Telescope, is a joint effort by the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley to construct a radio interferometer that will be dedicated to astronomical and simultaneous search for extra-terrestrial intelligence observations. It is being constructed at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles northeast of San Francisco, California and will be composed of 350 antennas at completion. See
g Cosmicus - Could we make a "solar still" on Mars? See
g Learning - Science, even by reputable practitioners, proceeds in fits, starts, and frequent excursions down blind alleys. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Greg Bear’s “Anvil of Stars,” published by Tor in 1992.
g Aftermath - As we look toward exploring other worlds, and perhaps even bringing samples back to Earth for testing, astrobiologists have to wonder: could there be alien pathogens in those samples that will wreak havoc on our world? See