Sunday, December 16, 2007

DNA assembling into liquid crystals and bedtime for astronauts

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 Life - Scientists studying ultrashort DNA molecules have provided a new scenario for how life may have originated on Earth. The team found that short segments of DNA are able to assemble into distinct liquid crystal phases. The research may help us understand how life could have originated from segments of DNA-like molecules. See article.
g Cosmicus - In the future, bedtime for astronauts may be more than a few evening hours of regular shuteye. It may help them reach other planets, though admittedly they would have to sleep for quite a long time. See article.
g Learning - Off the main highway in Schriever, La., there's a stunning view of volcanoes on Mars and galaxies that nurse infant stars into existence. See article.
g Aftermath - What are the societal implications of astrobiology? A NASA workshop in 1999 set out to determine what they might be. Here’s their report. See article.

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