Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Habitable lake on early Mars and what happens if the next signal turns out to be the real thing

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 have discovered evidence of what may have been a habitable, ancient lake on early Mars. Images from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter indicate that Mars' Holden crater was once filled with a long-lived and calm lake. See article.
g Message - What happens if the next signal turns out to be the real thing? What happens if the sender wants to talk? Will we know what to say? See this astrobiology primer. See article.
g Cosmicus - The El-E robot looks like something you'd see in a Hollywood sci-fi flick: It's got two lenses spaced together just like eyes and a slender 5 1/2-foot-tall body. It spurts out wacky catch phrases when it accomplishes its goals. But unlike android movie stars, the El-E isn't designed to behave like a human. Rather, its focus is interacting with us. It simply grabs stuff you point at with a laser. See article.
g Imagining - Many science fiction story lines involve alien life forms. From a literary prospective, aliens often serve as metaphors for something more familiar. From a practical prospective, they make stories more interesting and TV more eye-catching. But what of scientific accuracy? A professor offers his advice about "How to Build an Alien." See article.
g Aftermath - Freelance writer Mark Pendergrast examines the folly of the Anthropic Principle in a Vermont newspaper op-ed. See article.