Monday, September 10, 2007

Volcanoes help ensure oxygen-breathing life, defining living organisms and ergonomics for extraterrestrials

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 - A switch from predominantly undersea volcanoes to a mix of undersea and terrestrial ones shifted the Earth's atmosphere from devoid of oxygen to one with free oxygen, according to geologists. See article.
g Life - We create life, we search for it, we manipulate and revere it. Is it possible that we haven't yet defined the term? See article.
g Message - Nobody has yet seen an extraterrestrial, which may sound like a problem in establishing a science of astrobiology. But in the past 20 years or so, scientists have found clues that life may be quite common in the universe, and many are hopeful that they will soon find hard evidence of life beyond Earth. See article. Note: This article is from autumn 2006.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: ”It is mankind's destiny to leave Earth and spread throughout the universe. As a creature of the highest consciousness, he will replace the chaos of the universe with his unifying structure.” - Konstantin Tsiolkovsky
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “Ergonomics For Extraterrestrials,” in which students develop an extraterrestrial life form, and to create a workstation that accommodates its unique characteristics. See article.
g Imagining - Looking for some classic science fiction alien movies? Here’s a fairly exhaustive list, with brief explanations of each. Now in how each one the aliens really are just mythical monsters that play on human psychology (specifically fear or revulsion). Such films really say less about the evolution of potential extraterrestrial lifeforms and civilizations than about the evolution of human beings and our culture.
g Aftermath - If some day we detect a radio signal from a distant civilization, we’ll have to make some adjustments in the way we view ourselves. After millennia of knowing of no other intelligence in the universe than humankind, we could face a considerable challenge to our terrestrial egotism. In the process, will we simply gain a little healthy humility about our place in the universe? Or would it be downright humiliating to compare our own meager accomplishments with those of more advanced extraterrestrials? See article. Note: This article is from November 2000.

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