Sunday, May 18, 2008

How asteroid impacts affect life and the assumption that we are alone in the universe

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 nearby Sun-like star Delta Pavonis? See article.
g Abodes - Researchers confirm that asteroid impacts can strike with enough force to liquefy carbon deep in the Earth's crust and eject it skyward to form beads that then blanket the planet. The finding is helping scientists interpret how past impacts effected life on Earth. See article.
g Message - The drive to place humanity at the center of the universe has led to a stream of assumptions that, as facts have been collected, are shown to be ill founded. The Ptolemaic Earth centered view was replaced by Copernican Sun centered view, which in its time was also replaced. The assumption that we are alone in the universe is also under threat of replacement. One of the more interesting aspects of our apparent aloneness was pointed out by Enrico Fermi and is know as Fermi's Paradox. See article.
g Cosmicus - Many space missions use robots to explore. The rovers Spirit and Opportunity are still travelling around Mars, taking pictures and digging in the dirt. But could a robot identify alien life? How would a machine know the difference, for instance, between a rock and bacteria? See article.
g Learning - Here's a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: "Planets in a Bottle." The lesson plan involves yeast experiments intended for 2nd through 4th grade students. See article.
g Aftermath - The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence cannot guarantee success in a trivial, superficial sense (that is in the form of the discovery of an alien civilization). But at its deeper levels SETI certainly stimulates and influences our thoughts and transforms our society in profound ways. See article.

No comments: