Friday, June 22, 2007

Surviving a supernova, germ-laden samples from Mars and growing rocket industry

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 - Astronomers discover that chemicals important to the origin of life are resilient enough to survive an exploding supernova. The finding is important in understanding the potential for such molecules to be transported through space to locations suitable for life's origin. See article.
g Abodes - Decades after Hollywood first made the leap between alien life and the threat of contamination, a scientist has issued a similar warning. U.S. Geological Survey geologist Jeffrey Kargel says convincing evidence uncovered by NASA's robotic rover Opportunity that water once flowed on Mars means scientists should proceed cautiously in bringing back potentially germ-laden samples of the Red Planet. See article.
g Intelligence - Does anybody really know what time it is? The modern answer is just look at your watch or check the calendar. But such markings can be deceptive. Consider "summer": Most of us would suspect it's about a third over. … Technically, though, summer began just last Monday. For my musings on the summer solstice, published last year, go to
g Cosmicus - As rockets will be for life in orbit as cars are on Earth, the rocket business is going to grow to have all the infrastructure that the car industry has on Earth: sales operations, hire firms, lease firms, orbital propellant bases, specialized repair shops, licensing, standard maintenance procedures, spare parts suppliers, second-hand stores, innumerable accessories, and scrap dealers. There'll even a whole range of leisure-related activities: races, rallies, collectors, antique dealers and restorers. There'll also be a corresponding range of new careers - pilots and stewardesses, mechanics, parts suppliers, and numerous business roles such as freight-forwarders, traffic-controllers, lease-financiers and insurance. See
g Learning - Quote of the Day: “If 1 percent of civilizations can survive technological adolescence, ... the number of extant civilizations in the Galaxy is in the millions.” — Carl Sagan

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