Sunday, May 25, 2008

Europa's drifting polar regions and societal, philosophical and religious fallout from first contact

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 for the red dwarf binary Gliese 257 AB?
g Abodes - The icy outer shell of Jupiter's moon Europa may have slipped about 80° within the last 60 million years, carrying the moon's polar regions towards its equator, a new study reports. The research bolsters the idea that a global ocean – which just might harbour life – lies hidden beneath the moon's icy surface. See article.
g Life - It's the basement apartment like no other. Life has been found 1.6 kilometers beneath the sea floor, at temperatures reaching 100 °C. The discovery marks the deepest living cells ever to be found beneath the sea floor. Bacteria have been found deeper underneath the continents, but there they are rare. In comparison, the rocks beneath the sea appear to be teeming with life. See article.
g Intelligence - Quote of the Day: “It must seem absolutely nonsensical indeed, that in the infinity of the cosmos our Earth should have remained the only supporter of intelligent beings. The rational order of the universe demands that there should necessarily even be infinite gradations of intelligent beings inhabiting such worlds.” – Kurd Lasswitz
g Message - Astrobiology has been the flavor of the last decade, particularly in the Bay Area where UC Berkeley, San Francisco State, and NASA Ames Research Center have led the field in trying to answer the kinds of mind-boggling questions prompted by the search for life in space. Is our planet an aberration, a warm spot in a cold universe — or is life practically inevitable if you throw the right chemicals together? If there's other life, what's it like? Where does it live? Is it related to us? Why doesn't it ever call or write? See Part I and Part II.
g Cosmicus - Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has been selected to support seven NASA astrophysics strategic mission concept studies for its next generation of major space observatories. See article.
g Aftermath - High-tech telescopes on the ground and in space that perform daunting astronomical peep shows in a search for Earth-like worlds aim to answer one of humankind's most monumental questions: "Are we alone?" There is on-going deliberation relating to the societal, philosophical and religious fallout that stems from resolving such a stellar inquiry. See article.

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