Thursday, August 23, 2007

Google maps space, extraterrestrial biology and could aliens decipher Earth languages

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 Life - New findings suggest a large comet may have exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, causing abrupt cooling of much of the planet and the extinction of large mammals. See article.
g Message - Here’s an article in which Dave DeBoer, project engineer for the Allen Telescope Array, discusses what the unique telescope will offer. The development of the Allen Telescope Array is marked by many innovations crafted with the express purpose of building a world-class state-of-the-art astronomical facility at a fraction of the price of existing radio telescopes. See article. Note: This article is from October 2003.
g Cosmicus - The man who brought you the first mission to Pluto (set to arrive in 2015) has a new role at NASA: head of the Science Mission Directorate. Since Alan Stern took the helm in April he has been busy setting up shop and laying out a bold direction for science at NASA. Now in an update released through the Planetary Newsletter Stern shares his vision, goals and progress so far. See article.
g Learning - Technology launched yesterday by Google will allow you to float through 100m stars and 200m galaxies without leaving your desk. See article.
g Imagining - What about the invading aliens from the X-Files: Are they plausible? A book released a few years ago that addresses the topic is “The Science of the X-Files,” by Jeanne Cavelos. Here’s a review of the book (look near the end for a discussion on the extraterrestrial biology).
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 article. Note: This article is from June 2004.