Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Finding Earth-sized worlds orbiting other stars and introducing a new factor into the Drake Equation

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 new theory proposes Earth-like planets with double the star power. See article.
g Abodes - It seems impossible to believe, but astronomers are now making plans to reach for the brass ring of planet hunting: to find Earth-sized worlds orbiting other stars, and then to analyze them to see if there's life. But you've got to know what you're looking for. That's why astronomers are considering what the Earth might look like from afar. What clues would our planet give to distant astronomers that there's life here? See article.
g Life - Scientists have successfully created an entire synthetic genome in the lab by stitching together the DNA of the smallest known free-living bacterium, Mycoplasma genitalium. See article.
g Message - In order to account for the true prevalence of communicative civilizations, should we introduce a METI factor fm into the classical Drake Equation? See article.
g Cosmicus - There exists an unbreakable bond between space activism and science fiction fandom. Many pro-space groups were born at science fiction conventions, inspired by the genre. SF encourages space activism with stories of space travel, space settlement, and scientific discovery in general. SF Cons were and still are a great place for fans to meet, plan, discuss ideas, and form groups. These included the legendary L5 Society, National Space Society, Space Frontier Foundation, Planetary Society, Space Access Society, Artemis Project, and other groups. SF cons also allowed pro-space groups to network, grow, and get the word out about the space movement, and the importance of becoming a space faring civilization with people both living and working in space. SF literature also inspired many to become engineers, scientists, technicians, space buffs, and geeks in general. The diversity of the SF community led to the creation of numerous pro-space organizations, each with a different mission plan. See article.
g Learning - Where can high school science teachers learn more about the growing interdisciplinary field of Astrobiology? In the ASSET program, a summer institution for high school science teachers. U. S. teachers are invited to apply.
g Imagining - Skull Island’s commendably diverse population (of “King Kong” fame) isn’t very realistic. In such isolated habitats, competition among species is limited. The consequence is that, with time, predator species tend to get smaller while prey species grow larger. The optimum size (at least for mammals) seems to be roughly that of a rabbit. Kong is bigger than many rabbits. See article.

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