Sunday, May 06, 2007

Young stars are destroying their natal dust cloud, liquid water possibly on exoplanet and astrobiology’s fundamental questions and

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 - Two rambunctious young stars are destroying their natal dust cloud with powerful jets of radiation, in an infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The stars are located approximately 600 light-years away in a cosmic cloud called BHR 71. See
g Abodes - Astronomers have discovered the most Earth-like planet outside our Solar System to date, an exoplanet with a radius only 50% larger than the Earth and possibly having liquid water on its surface. See
g Life - Even though they had the ability to evolve and survive for hundreds of millions of years - since before the time of the dinosaurs and through many climatic regimes - the massive, worldwide decline of amphibians can best be understood by their inability to keep pace with the current rate of global change, a new study suggests. See
g Intelligence - Despite decades of research , there is no proven link between video game violence and real-world violence. See
g Message - Visiting another civilization on a distant world would be fascinating, but at present such a trip is beyond our capabilities. However, it is perfectly within our capabilities to develop a communications system using a powerful transmitter and a sensitive receiver, and using it to search the sky for alien worlds whose citizens have a similar inclination. See
g Cosmicus - How do you get rid of the body of a dead astronaut on a three-year mission to Mars and back? See
g Learning - Here’s a cool introduction to astrobiology: A concept map of the field’s fundamental questions with links to each one:
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read C.M. Kornbluth’s short story "The Silly Season," originally published in F&SF (Fall 1950).
g Aftermath - If you could send a message to an extraterrestrial somewhere across the galaxy, what would you say? Post your own message or read some of the highlighted submissions at this Web site.