Thursday, May 31, 2007

Number of potentially habitable planets, universal evolutionary biomarkers and what Mars would look like with water

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 - Chances are you haven't spent a whole lot of time wondering how many Jupiter-like planets exist in our galaxy. But Charley Lineweaver has, because it bears on a more important question: How many potentially habitable planets are there? See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
gLife - In view of the substantial challenges ahead in instrumentation and trials on Earth analogs, we must now begin to plan a second generation of feasible evolutionary experiments with whole microorganisms. In those new experiments universal evolutionary biomarkers should be searched for. 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 3 of this 7-part series, David Grinspoon says we have an ethical imperative to bring a dead planet to life. See And here’s a bonus: A NASA animation of what Mars would look like with water: Animation: Large Areas of Mars Covered by Water (Requires QuickTime or other MPEG player).
g Learning - Book alert: Sure, you’ve heard of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. But do you really know what it means? And even if you do there’s a lot more to be learned about this eccentric genius. Did you know he worked to develop hearing aids? Or that a student actually spotted a mistake in one of his papers? And you’ll never guess what happed to Einstein’s brain after he died. Find out in “101 Things You Didn't Know About Einstein: Sex, Science, And the Secrets of the Universe,” by Cynthia Phillips and Shana Priwer. See

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