Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Solar wind behavior, potential havens for life and the search for adenine

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 - A chance encounter between the Ulysses spacecraft and Comet McNaught has provided interesting information about the composition of comets. In addition, the observations yielded unique insight into the behavior of the solar wind. See article.
g Abodes - Different types of worlds, even ones not like the Earth, can still be potential havens for life. See article.
g Life - Some of the elements necessary to support life on Earth are widely known - oxygen, carbon and water, to name a few. Just as important in the existence of life as any other component is the presence of adenine, an essential organic molecule. Without it, the basic building blocks of life would not come together. Scientists have been trying to find the origin of Earth's adenine and where else it might exist in the solar system. University of Missouri-Columbia researcher Rainer Glaser may have the answer. See article.
g Message - Extraterrestrial civilizations may find it more efficient to communicate by sending material objects across interstellar distances rather than beams of electromagnetic radiation. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - Aussie scientists have called on their federal government to provide $100 million over 10 years to help launch an Australian space program. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a good introduction to learning about the characteristics of living things is to get the kids brainstorming as to what makes a living thing living: “Glue Critters.” See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “Expedition to Earth,” published by Ballantine in 1953.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing entry from the “Interdisciplinary Encyclopeadia of Religion and Science”: “Extraterrestrial Life.” It discusses the consequences of alien contact from a Catholic perspective. See article.