Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Interstellar messaging, communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence and Dawn delayed

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 agree that Epsilon Eridani may be a window to the past, though, a view of our solar system some four billion years ago, shortly after the planets formed. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Abodes - Although the discrepancy is not large, it is significant: Geodesists from the University of Bonn have remeasured the size of the Earth in a long lasting international cooperation project. The blue planet is accordingly some millimeters smaller than up to now assumed. The results are important, for example, to be able to demonstrate a climate contingent rise in sea level. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/07/070705110225.htm.
g Message -Here’s a neat Web site: “Interstellar Messaging.” You’ll find discussion, history and real-world examples of mankind's methods and ongoing attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials. See http://www.seti.housenet.org/.
g Cosmicus - The scientist leading NASA's Dawn spacecraft on a three-billion-mile reconnaissance mission to explore a massive asteroid and a "dwarf planet" believed to harbor water has been designing the project for more than a decade. Liftoff was supposed to happen this weekend, yet troubles interfered. And officials Saturday ordered another launch delay - all the way to September. See http://www.spaceflightnow.com/delta/d325/070707delay.html.
g Learning - There’s a neat set of online activities, primarily for older teens or young adults, about communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence at http://ethel.as.arizona.edu/~collins/astro/subjects/ceti.html. It helps students learn about SETI while they send one another messages then decode them, as if they were alien civilizations on distant worlds.
g Imagining -In Ridley Scott's 1979 slimy monster masterpiece "Alien," the extraterrestrial life form discovered by Sigourney Weaver and crew goes through two startlingly different phases after it hatches. Is such a change during the life of an animal mere sci fi license? Not really. In fact, many earthlings go through similar drastic changes in form. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=101. Note: This article is from March 2001.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “… discovering life on another planet might be one of the most fantastic things for humans.” — J. Craig Venter