Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Detecting life’s signature on exoplanets, books about SETI

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 - One of the promising methods to search for life on exoplanets is to detect life's signatures in their atmospheres. Spectra of exoplanet atmospheres at the modest resolution needed to search for oxygen, carbon dioxide, water and methane will demand large collecting areas and large diameters to capture and isolate the light from planets in the habitable zones around the stars. See article.
g Life - Could dormant forms of bacteria called endospores potentially travel from Earth to Mars aboard spacecraft? If so, new experiments suggest that even a dry and cold Mars might not prove so inhospitable, despite the possibility of self-sterilizing and oxidizing Martian soil. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Intelligence - Book alert: “Intelligent Life in the Universe”, by Peter Ulmschneider, addresses all scientists and others interested in the origins, development and fate of intelligent species in the observable part of our universe. In particular, the author scrutinizes what kind of information about extraterrestrial intelligent life can be inferred from our own biological, cultural and scientific evolution and the likely future of mankind. The first part of the book provides the necessary background information from space and life sciences, thus making the book also accessible to students and the scientifically educated public.
g Cosmicus - Are bigger bones stronger bones? Not necessarily, according to a recent NASA study that seeks to ensure healthy bones in astronauts. See article.
g Learning - Here’s an excellent collection of books about SETI, including some for elementary and middle school children. These would make some great holiday gifts.

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