Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Looking for more than radio signals and robots that operate like amoeba

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 Message - The search for extraterrestrial intelligence could be taking the wrong approach. Instead of listening for alien radio broadcasts, a better strategy may be to look for giant structures placed in orbit around nearby stars by alien civilizations. See article.
g Cosmicus - Most robots have legs, wheels, or tank-like treads. But Virgina Tech roboticist Dennis Hong is building one that uses “whole-skin locomotion” to move like an amoeba, enabling it to squeeze more easily into the some of the tight other-worldly spaces where extraterrestrial life might be hiding. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site: The Exorarium. At the Exorarium, visitors get a chance to mix and match the same ingredients that brought about human life, shaping their own unique intelligent life forms. For example, you might start with a hot or cool star, a heavy or light planet, one with lots of water or a desert world, and so on – until a unique ecosystem takes shape before your eyes … a family tree leading to the ultimate outcome, a species of intelligent life. See article.