Monday, February 18, 2008

Verifiable science and Gauss’ historic proposal for contacting aliens

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 - Last June, a group of scientists visited Iceland, one of the most active volcanic places in the world. In some ways, Iceland resembles what the young Earth was like, so studying modern bacteria that colonize Iceland’s rocks may provide clues about early life. Aude Herrera recalls the scientist’s recent rock-collecting adventure here in the second part of her journal. See article.
g Life - Although this is currently a speculative field, the presence of life in the rest of the universe is a verifiable hypothesis (though it has yet to be verified), making xenobiology a valid field for scientific enquiry. Likewise, computer simulations of basic life processes have made it possible to do exploratory engineering of alternate life forms (like left-handed DNA) to determine their characteristics. See article.
g Message - The modern pop phenomenon of crop circles, which carve messages into mowing patterns, is not new: The great mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, first proposed such a bold move for plowing a few Siberian forests. See article.
g Cosmicus - The Environmentally Non-Disturbing Under-ice Robotic Antarctic Explorer (ENDURANCE) is a $2.3 million project funded by NASA's Astrobiology Science and Technology for Exploring Planets Program. The probe is an autonomous underwater vehicle designed to swim untethered under ice, creating three-dimensional maps of underwater environments. The probe will collect data on conditions in those environments and take samples of microbial life. Researchers plan to ship the probe to a permanently frozen lake in Antarctica for operations later this year. See article.
g Aftermath - Looking for some interesting reading on “first contact”? Try the science fiction anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff. The book came out in 1997. Here’s a review (though it’s less than flattering).

No comments: