Monday, January 14, 2008

What aliens might see if they spotted Earth and antimatter propulsion systems

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 - Astronomers have found the most Sun-like star yet, and they say it is an ideal place to hunt for alien civilizations. See article.
g Abodes - Astronomers are trying to determine what alien races might see if they happened to be staring at the Earth from the surface of far away planets. The research may help us better understand what we should look for when searching for habitable planets around distant stars. See article.
g Life - Most modern-day groups of beetles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs and have been diversifying ever since, says new research out in Science. There are approximately 350,000 species of beetles on Earth, and probably millions more yet to be discovered, accounting for about 25% of all known life forms on the planet. The reason for this large number of beetle species has been debated by scientists for many years, but never resolved. See article.
g Cosmicus - Antimatter seems the boldest — and newest — of propulsion concepts, but in fact Eugen Sänger’s work on the uses of antimatter in rocketry goes back to the 1930s. The German scientist thought it would be possible to reflect gamma rays produced by the annihilation of electrons and positrons to produce thrust. His work wowed the Fourth International Astronautical Congress in 1952, but there was a catch: the gamma rays created by this reaction seemed too energetic to use the way Sänger hoped — they penetrated all known materials and could not be channeled effectively into a rocket exhaust. See article.
g Aftermath - Will we find extraterrestrial intelligence—and should we want to? Such are the questions examined in “Contact with Alien Civilizations.” Michael A.G. Michaud, a space policy analyst and former diplomat, provides an engrossing overview of the probabilities, promises, and risks of encountering smart aliens. Drawing heavily on the scientific and scholarly literature (he apologizes for not thoroughly discussing science fiction), Michaud’s approach is to compile diverse expert opinions on alien-related topics and relentlessly scrutinize premises about what the extraterrestrials would be like. His analysis suggests that contact is a serious—and not necessarily pleasant—possibility. See article or this review.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: