Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Morning drizzle on Titan, chemical clues indicating ET and Outside Context Problem

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 - Astronomers have directly observed rain on Titan for the first time. Using near-infrared images, they've shown persistent morning drizzle over Titan's major continent, Xanadu. See article.
g Life - What makes a handful of chemicals spring to life? By looking at how life started on Earth, astronomers can discover what clues to look for to hunt down life on other planets. See article.
g Intelligence - A male dog will whine and beg in deference to a stronger dog, but will lower its voice into a guttural growl if it thinks it has a fighting chance. Men unconsciously do a similar thing, scientists say. See article. Note: This article is from 2006.
g Message - When scientists get together to talk about extraterrestrial life, they certainly don't imagine little green men. In fact, our first contact with life beyond our planet probably will involve a microbe. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - Book alert: Here’s a neat, fictional post-Apollo, Shuttle-derived lunar architecture as portrayed in Homer Hickam's "Back to the Moon.”
g Learning - NASA’s free Astrobiology Education Poster illustrates in words and pictures the fundamental questions addressed by astrobiology: What is life? Where is it? How do you find it? Three activities have been developed to explore these themes. It’s great for teachers — or parents looking to spend some quality time with their children. See article.
g Imagining - Venus's battery-acid clouds might very well support microbial life - like the "extremophile" microorganisms that Earth scientists have found thriving near volcano outflows. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Aftermath - An Outside Context Problem or an OCP is any problem outside given organization or society experience, with an immediate, ubiquitous and lasting impact upon an entire culture or civilization — such as first contact with extraterrestrials. See article.