Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Planet orbiting red giant, how life has changed on Earth and estimate of alien civilizations in galaxy

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 - Red dwarfs are smaller, dimmer and cooler than our sun. There are more than a dozen of these stars within a few light years of our Earth, yet not one of them is visible to the naked eye. For years it was thought that they were a poor place to look for alien lifeforms. However, recent computer models contradict this supposition. This is excellent news for xenobiologists since four out of every five stars is a red dwarf. See article.
g Abodes -A new planet orbiting a giant red dwarf star has been discovered, and is teaching astronomers about the future of our own Solar System and the potential for life on planets orbiting distant stars. See article.
g Life -How has life changed Earth? How has Earth changed life? And why did animal life appear on Earth some time around 600 million years ago – and not at another time? A new NASA Astrobiology Institute group will tackle big questions about the origin of advanced life. See article.
g Message -The founder of the scientific search for extraterrestrial civilizations Frank Drake believed that a minimum of 200 highly developed civilizations were hiding somewhere in our galaxy. See article.
g Cosmicus - Former astronaut Rusty Schweickart has already earned his place in the history books by going to the moon with the Apollo 9 mission. However, should an asteroid crash into the Earth anytime soon, killing millions and causing catastrophic damage, he'll also be remembered as the guy whose warnings we ignored. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a good Web site that gives an general overview of astrobiology for kids: “Astrocentral.” See article.
g Imagining -Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Hal Clement’s novel “Mission Of Gravity,” published by Doubleday in 1954.
g Aftermath -If, as “The X-Files'” Fox Mulder might say, "The truth is out there," then the researchers running the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence program are likely to be the first ones to find it. On the other hand, there are numerous people who believe they've already been in contact with aliens. National Geographic's video ”Phantom Quest: The Search for Extraterrestrials” studies the claims of both groups, ultimately seeking to reveal precisely what an encounter with beings from another planet could mean for humanity. See article.