Thursday, September 20, 2007

Neon around sun-like stars, Bracewell probes and alien fungal life forms

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 - Astronomers have observed neon in disks of dust and gas around distant, sun-like stars. The finding may help scientists narrow in on which stars are more likely to have planet-forming disks. See article.
g Abodes - Imagine trying to learn everything you can about the Earth from a distance of billions or even trillions of kilometers. That's the challenge facing scientists who search for life on worlds orbiting distant stars. See article.
g Message - To contact an alien civilization, humanity might want to consider a Bracewell probe — a hypothetical concept for an autonomous interstellar space probe dispatched for the express purpose of communication with (an) alien civilization(s). It was proposed by Ronald N. Bracewell in a 1960 paper, as an alternative to interstellar radio communication between widely separated civilizations. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “The foremost significance of an interstellar flight capability lies in the evolution of the human species as a cosmic force.” — Krafft Ehricke
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site to introduce kids who go ga-ga over movie aliens to the science of astrobiology. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Piers Anthony’s “Omnivore” (1968), which examines fungal life forms.
g Aftermath - Within the scientific community, the question is no longer whether extraterrestrial life exists, but if ET is smart enough to do long division — and the U.S. and other world governments already have detailed secret plans for first contact. My apologies in advanced for Popular Mechanic’s lurid title, but the reporting is sound. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

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