Saturday, January 19, 2008

Mars’ pure silica and studying an utterly alien language

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 - Scientists are trying to determine the origin of nearly pure silica discovered by the Spirit rover on Mars. The silica may have come from hot springs or a fumarole – where acidic steam rises through cracks. On Earth, both of these environments are capable of supporting life. See article.
g Intelligence - Researchers in Israel report a daytime nap may help memory - especially for those learning more than one skill in one day. See article.
g Message - Despite a recent report on an Oakland, Calif., television signal, we haven’t received a signal from aliens. See article.
g Aftermath - Epicurus, in the fourth century BC, believed that the universe contained other worlds like our own, and since his time there has been considerable debate whether extraterrestrial life exists and might communicate with us. In the last quarter of the 20th century, an international social movement has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, CETI, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials have already been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article.

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