Saturday, August 11, 2007

Mass-extinction’s clues for today, is interest in ET waning and alien encoding schemes

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 -Approximately 250 million years ago, vast numbers of species disappeared from Earth. This mass-extinction event may hold clues to current global carbon cycle changes, according to Jonathan Payne, assistant professor of geological and environmental sciences. Payne, a paleobiologist who joined the Stanford faculty in 2005, studies the Permian-Triassic extinction and the following 4 million years of instability in the global carbon cycle. In the July issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin, Payne presented evidence that a massive, rapid release of carbon may have triggered this extinction. See article.
g Life - The discovery of an immune system in a social amoeba may provide clues as to how multicellular life developed on Earth. This important step in the history of life played a major role in the diversification of life on our planet and can provide information about the mechanisms through which life evolves. See article.
g Message -Man has long looked to the stars in awe, but is our interest in space and Little Green Men waning? See article.
g Cosmicus -With perhaps the year's most dazzling meteor shower in the night sky above Tucson and hundreds of meteorite experts gathered there for an annual convention, those cosmic dust particles that blaze up in our atmosphere are taking center stage in the Southwestern city. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a great classroom resource guide, courtesy of NASA: NAI's team at NASA Ames Research Center has created Chapter 4 of the Yellowstone Resources and Issues Guide which tells all about thermophiles, their habitats in the park, and their relationship to both the history of life on Earth, and the search for life elsewhere. The guide is used to train park naturalists and rangers, and it can also serve as a valuable resource when teaching about extremophiles and astrobiology in the classroom. Download a copy.
g Imagining -Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Gordon Eklund’s "Objects Unidentified (Flying)," anthologized in “First Contact” (edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff and published by DAW in 1997).
g Aftermath -Even if the public seems less than awestruck by the prospect that alien life is a bunch of microscopic bugs, astrobiologists say unequivocal discovery of microbial life beyond Earth will change human society in profound ways, some unfathomable today. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.