Saturday, April 19, 2008

Habitable zone for DX Cancri and new technology in search for habitable planets

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 - What is the habitable zone of the nearby star DX Cancri?
g Abodes - A revolutionary laser technology will enable scientists to spot Earth-sized worlds in Earth-like orbits around distant stars. The new technology is a major step forward in the search for habitable planets. See article.
g Life - Life doesn't need water. In fact, all kinds of weird liquids could be solvents for life like water is here on Earth. Scientists say the list of alien water-substitutes is long, from frigid nitrogen to supercritical CO2 to methane to formamide. Whatever inhabits these other liquids would have to take on some truly odd forms, right down to DNA like we've never seen before. See article.
g Message - If you've ever seen the movie Contact, you'll know the alien-hunter stereotype: quirky, visionary loners who sit up all night listening to static, hoping for the signal that will change the world. That's probably not far off from real life, except that SETI (that's Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) scientists are getting creative. At the recent Astrobiology Science Conference, 2008, they're presenting new ways of looking for little green men, including watching for signs of alien lasers, infrared signals, and even gravity waves. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA Administrator Michael Griffin gave as good as he got on NASA Mars robotic funding cuts aired before a largely hostile audience of 300 international space researchers March 10 at the 39th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. See article.
g Learning - New academic disciplines often get cool receptions. Women's Studies and Quantum Mechanics were considered either frivolous or fictional by many when they first appeared in university catalogs. In the late 1930s, the manuscript that Grote Reber wrote describing low-frequency emission from the Milky Way — a pioneering work that broke open the field of radio astronomy — was uniformly rejected by reviewers for the Astrophysical Journal. Fortunately, the editor decided to publish Reber's paper anyway. Astrobiology feels their pain. The field is young enough to still have vocal critics; in particular, those who think that "astrobiology" is nothing more than a hope that life will someday be discovered beyond Earth. See article.
g Aftermath - If we ever make contact with intelligent aliens, we should be able to build a universal translator to communicate with them, according to a linguist and anthropologist. See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited