Sunday, December 23, 2007

Water raining down onto newly born solar system and exploring Europa’s ocean

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 - Enough water to fill the Earth's seas five time over has been spotted raining down onto a newly born solar system. The vital ingredient for life is falling as steam and hitting a disk of dust where planets are probably forming. See article.
g Message - The story goes like this: Sometime in the 1940s, Enrico Fermi was talking about the possibility of extra-terrestrial intelligence with some other physicists. They were impressed that life had evolved quickly and progressively on Earth. They figured our galaxy holds about 100 billion stars, and that an intelligent, exponentially reproducing species could colonize the galaxy in just a few million years. They reasoned that extraterrestrial intelligence should be common by now. Fermi listened patiently, then asked, simply, "So, where is everybody?" That is, if extra-terrestrial intelligence is common, why haven't we met any bright aliens yet? This conundrum became known as Fermi's Paradox. See article.
g Cosmicus - Jupiter’s moon Europa is just as far away as ever, but new research is bringing scientists closer to being able to explore its tantalizing ice-covered ocean and determine its potential for harboring life. See article.
g Learning - A positive response to lifelong learning policies involves the use of imaginative curriculum design in order to attract learners from disadvantaged backgrounds who are otherwise alienated from higher education. In this article a case study is presented based on the popularity of science fiction within popular culture, beginning with community-based modules in the South Wales valleys and culminating in a complete BSc honors award in Science and Science Fiction. This experiment in curriculum engineering has recruited adult learners, as well as school-leavers, and has led to the use of innovative teaching and learning methods that complement curriculum objectives and outcomes. See article.