Thursday, July 26, 2007

Supergiants spewing life molecules distinguishing ETI’s messages from stellar noise and applying earth science to speculations about 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 -University of Arizona astronomers who are probing the oxygen-rich environment around a supergiant star with one of the world's most sensitive radio telescopes have discovered a score of molecules that include compounds needed for life. See
g Message -Our most efficient attempts to broadcast our planet's existence to another civilization would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars. By analogy, more advanced worlds would likely do the same, making our chances of listening in hard to distinguish from hearing stellar noise. See
. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus -Two NASA robots are surveying a rocky, isolated polar desert within a crater in the Arctic Circle. The study will help scientists learn how robots could evaluate potential outposts on the moon or Mars. See
g Learning -Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “The Drake Equation.” Students estimate the number of civilizations in the galaxy by first estimating the number of craters on the Moon and then by performing estimates of multiple-variable systems culminating in the use of the Drake Equation. See
g Imagining -Speculation about aliens has typically been left to science fiction authors, science fiction readers and Hollywood writers and directors. But what if we apply what we have learned about life on Earth to speculate about what alien life forms might be like? Here’s a primer:
g Aftermath -If we encountered an intelligent species on another planet, could we understand them? In turn, could extrasolar species decipher one of our 8,000 terrestrial languages in use today? See Note: This article is from June 2004.