Monday, July 30, 2007

Early Earth’s environment, postbiological life and extremophile primer

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 -Astronomers suspect the early Earth was a very harsh place. Temperatures were extreme, and the planet was constantly bombarded by cosmic debris. Many scientists believe that life's starting materials, or building blocks, must have been very resilient to have survived this tumultuous environment. See article.
g Life -The Arizona Radio Observatory is on the lookout for primitive organic molecules in the cold, dense gas clouds of interstellar space. See article.
g Message -Postbiological life might operate (communicate, organize, travel, colonize) on a larger scale than a single galaxy — possibly on the scale of the supercluster. The most advanced postbiological civilizations in our Local Supercluster may have developed in the Virgo Cluster, a rich cluster where intergalactic communication and travel would be easiest. If these advanced civilizations wanted to contact new civilizations elsewhere in the Supercluster they might collectively broadcast from one central location, for the sake of efficiency and to make it easy to find. A powerful, centrally located beacon would tend to replace all others in the Supercluster. This could explain the failure of SETI. The most likely location for this beacon is the giant elliptical galaxy M87. See article.
g Cosmicus - When NASA's latest mission lifts off this week, it carries instruments that will search for signs that life could exist on Mars. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat primer (for kids) to understanding extremophiles and how an understanding of them affects astrobiology: “Brave New Biosphere.” See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Richard McKenna’s short story, "Mine Own Ways”, anthologized in “Casey Agonistes” (edited by Richard McKenna and published in 1960).
g Aftermath -Will ET be altruistic or hostile? An Internet poll found a strong connection between people’s beliefs about extraterrestrials and their feelings about how meaningful life is. What makes the results even more compelling is that they match the findings of an earlier study conducted under more stringent testing conditions. See article. Note: This article is from February 2002.

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