Saturday, July 07, 2007

Looking for life around red dwarfs, what might have happened if Apollo’s pace had been maintained and what to say to ET

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 -If you want to find extraterrestrial intelligence, you're going to have to look in the right place. In our galaxy alone there are more than 100 billion stars, so you might expect to find a profusion of alien abodes. But which suns do you point your telescope at? Bright, yellow stars like our own Sun have always seemed the obvious place to start. In the past few years, though, researchers have begun to wonder if they've been neglecting a whole class of likely targets: red dwarfs. See Note: This article is from 2001.
g Abodes -Where might we look for life? Consider some places that astrobiologists often cross off the life list: Venus, planets around small red dwarf stars and planets around large red giants. See
g Message -Quote of the Day: “We must believe that in all worlds there are living creatures and plants and other things we see in this world …” – Epicurus
g Cosmicus -Book alert: If you would like to take a nostalgic trip back to what many people thought might have happened if the pace of Apollo was maintained - and expanded, getting a copy of "Where The Winds Sleep - Man's Future on the Moon: a Projected History" written in 1969 by Neil Ruzic is worth the effort.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: “Interstellar Real Estate.” The lesson examines what makes Earth the perfect home for life as we know it as students explore the orbital characteristics a planetary home needs to support Earth-like life forms. See
g Imagining -Looking for an interesting read? Here’s a nifty anthology of science fiction that for the most part approaches extraterrestrials from a hard science fiction perspective: “Aliens and UFOs: Extraterrestrial Tales from Asimov's Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact,” by Cynthia Manson, Charles Ardai. It was published in 1993. For reviews of the book, see
g Aftermath - The spaceship comes down in your backyard, crushing a bed of petunias, and out steps the alien. This is always an awkward social moment. What, exactly, do you say to someone who may hold the secrets to the universe? See