Friday, February 08, 2008

Mapping gases and codebreaking the human genome

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 - Venus Express has peered below the thick clouds of Venus to provide accurate maps of water vapor and other gases in the planet's lower atmosphere. The data will teach scientists about Venus, and may yield important clues about climate change on Earth. See article.
g Life - Some 30 years ago, Nick Patterson worked in the secret halls of the Government Communications Headquarters, the code-breaking British agency that unscrambles intercepted messages and encrypts clandestine communications. He applied his brain to “the hardest problems the British had,” said Dr. Patterson, a mathematician. Today, at 61, he is tackling perhaps the toughest code of all — the human genome. Seven years ago, Dr. Patterson joined the Broad Institute, a joint research center of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His dexterity with numbers has already helped uncover startling information about ancient human origins. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Message - The SETI@home project is looking for volunteers. The project is getting a burst of new data from the upgraded Arecibo telescope, and more computers are needed to help pick out potential alien signals. See article.
g Aftermath - The next big discovery in science will be the proof that alien life exists — and it could come any day now. See article.

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