Monday, December 24, 2007

Water on planet orbiting another star and why Earth’s green plants may be unusual

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 - Gamma-ray bursts are short-lived bursts of gamma-ray photons, the most energetic form of light. At least some of them are associated with a special type of supernovae, the explosions marking the deaths of especially massive stars. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists have made a breakthrough in the search for aliens by discovering water for the first time ever on a planet orbiting another star. See article.
g Life - Researchers at the Virtual Planetary Laboratory there now believe that Earth-type worlds may have foliage that is largely yellow, orange or even red. The green of Earth’s plant life is anything but a universal standard. See article.
g Learning - Mars draws, demands attention. Of all the planets of our solar system not one has the stature of Mars in science, myth or fantasy. Mars is a magic name, heavy with allusions, aspirations and grand dreams unfulfilled. Carl Sagan once asked rhetorically, “why so many eager speculations and ardent fantasies about Martians, rather than Saturnians or Plutonians?” Why does Mars have this affect on humanity? From an educators point of view, that is the glory of Mars; it is a repository of imaginativeness and desire from which springs new insights, innovations and technologies that have both practical and cultural applications, enabling a creative and inventive approach to teaching of the life sciences, geology, history and literature. See article.

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