Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hydrogen in Earth’s core, what Yellowstone can tell us about alien worlds and Stanley Miller passes

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 - A Swedish research team headed by Professor Börje Johansson has used theoretical calculations to show that hydrogen is soluble in iron under the special conditions that prevail in the core of the earth. See article.
g Life - Stanley Miller, whose famous laboratory experiments in 1952 demonstrated how the simple organics considered necessary for the origin of life could have been synthesized on the primitive Earth, has died. See
g Intelligence - A recent study at the University of Minnesota suggests that ceiling height affects problem-solving skills and behavior by priming concepts that encourage certain kinds of brain processing. See
g Cosmicus - In his book, "Space on Earth," microbiologist Charles Cockell urges space scientists and environmentalists to work together for the future for humanity. See
g Learning - Here’s a great classroom resource guide, courtesy of NASA: NAI's team at NASA Ames Research Center has created Chapter 4 of the Yellowstone Resources and Issues Guide which tells all about thermophiles, their habitats in the park, and their relationship to both the history of life on Earth, and the search for life elsewhere. The guide is used to train park naturalists and rangers, and it can also serve as a valuable resource when teaching about extremophiles and astrobiology in the classroom. Download your copy at:
g Imagining - What should science fiction writers consider when creating a new alien species? Here’s a list of some important considerations as part of a lesson from a class on “world building”:
g Aftermath - As we begin the new millennium, large elements of both the scientific and lay communities are sensitive to the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere. Whereas it is sensible to be cautious as to when unmistakable evidence of ETI will be acquired, some searchers expect this discovery to occur in the near future. From the perspective of our descendants 1,000 years hence, initial contact will be part of history and their attention will be directed somewhere else. At that time, any difficulties or dislocations that occurred during first contact will be long past. Interacting with other civilizations will be no more unusual than interacting with human colonies that will be sprinkled throughout our solar system. A thousand years from now people will be quite different than they are today. Human interaction with ETI could account for only some of these differences. See

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