Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hot on ET’s trail, life on extrasolar planets and ‘Astroventure’

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 -Quote of the Day: "We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them and discuss about whether they were made or only just happened." - Mark Twain
g Abodes - If "E.T." is out there, whether in the form of intelligent beings or much simpler organisms, we may soon be hot on its trail. For the first time in history, the dream of searching for signs of life in other solar systems belongs not only on the philosopher's wish list, but on the list of doable and planned human endeavors. See Note: This article is from 2002.
gLife - Could life exist on discovered extra-solar planets? See
g Message - Book alert: In “Faint Echoes, Distant Stars: The Science and Politics of Finding Life Beyond Earth,” Ben Bova proffers a good general history of astrobiology, or the history and structure of life in the cosmos--one of the newest fields of scientific research. He covers astronomy briefly and gives more detail about the political and technological history of NASA, showing the effects of politics and accidents on the field. He also notes what we have discovered about the history of life on this planet, what we are looking for beyond Earth and the solar system, and how we are presently going about it. With so much to cover, this is hardly an in-depth account, but it is a very good introduction for the general reader and even the specialist who wants a look at the larger picture. Bova seasons his account with entertaining and illustrative historical anecdotes, so that, as a bonus, we get an idea of what NASA has been doing since the end of the Apollo program and something about what it hopes to do in the future that many readers will live to see. See
g Cosmicus - At the Astrobiology Science Conference last year, scientists and science fiction writers faced off in front of a packed audience to debate the promise and pitfalls of terraforming Mars. In part 2 of this 7-part series, John Rummel predicts that in our search for life on Mars, we probably won't find cows. See Here’s a bonus for you: A gallery of images depicting what Mars would like as a waterworld; see
g Learning - Here’s a cool set of classroom lessons courtesy of NASA: Astroventure, in which students search for and design a habitable planet. See