Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mars’ ancient salty sea and memorial to Big Ear

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 - Old galaxies swathed in dark matter clustered together early in the history of the universe, and eventually evolved into the most massive galaxies known today, British scientists say. See article.
g Abodes - A salty sea once washed over the plains of Mars at the Opportunity rover's landing site, creating a life-friendly environment more earthlike than any known on another world. Note: This article is from 2004. See article. For updated story, see “Chloride salts on Mars may have preserved past life”.
g Life - Researchers have found the earliest direct evidence of biological material on Earth in the form of cellulose microfibers. The finding also indicates that cellulose could be an excellent biosignature to search for on other planets. See article.
g Message - In late 1997, after almost 40 years of operation, the Ohio State University Radio Observatory and its "Big Ear" radio telescope — which picked up the famous “Wow!” signal — ceased operation. The land on which the observatory was sitting (owned by the Ohio Wesleyan University, Delaware, Ohio) was sold in 1983 to land developers who later claimed their rights to develop the property. The telescope was destroyed in early 1998. For a Web page memorial to Big Ear. See article.
g Cosmicus - When UC Berkeley Professor Richard Mathies began prototyping the Mars Organic Analyzer, he never expected it would help millions of wine drinkers that suffer adverse reactions from consuming red wine. See article.
g Learning - Astrobiologist Margaret Turnbull has made Mental Floss’ list of “10 Trailblazing Scientists About to Change Your Future.” See article.
g Aftermath - Is SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—a religion? See article.

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