Tuesday, October 09, 2007

How stars affect plant color, hot vents harboring previously unknown microorganisms and astrobiology’s goals

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 - The type of star providing sunshine may affect the color of an alien world's equivalent of bushes, trees, and grass. See article.
g Abodes - If minerals deep in the Earth's mantle were not able to store oxygen, there might not be life on our planet's surface. New research results provide insight into how the subsurface of our planet helps maintain the Earth's habitability. See article.
g Life - Hot vents deep in the ocean harbor thousands of previously unknown microorganisms, scientists report. See article.
g Message - Looking for life elsewhere is a tough task for human or robot. The good news is that the scientific skill and tools to search for, detect and inspect extraterrestrial life are advancing rapidly. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Cosmicus - In the 1990s, scientists coined the term "astrobiology" to refer to the study of life in space. During a 2003 radio broadcast of Earth and Sky, scientist Bruce Runnegar discussed the goals of this fascinating field. See article.
g Learning - Students begin school with strong natural interests in science and the world around them. However, for many, those interests noticeably decline - as do test scores - by the time they reach high school. On the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress science test, 68 percent of the nation's fourth graders, 59 percent of eighth graders, and only 54 percent of 12th graders scored at or above the Basic achievement level. To help educators encourage and sustain students' interests in science, Sally Ride Science announces its new Classroom Sets, ready-made science content to complement existing classroom instruction in upper elementary and middle school classrooms.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Harlan Ellison’s (ed.) “Medea: Harlan's World” (1985), a symposium on alien creation.
g Aftermath - Here’s an interesting book for some astrobiological reading: “After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life” by Albert A. Harrison.