Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Habitability of Kapteyn’s Star and an encyclopedia of extremophiles

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 star Kapteyn’s Star?
g Abodes - The NASA Phoenix Mars Lander has reportedly found dice-sized ice crumbs that may have melted after being uncovered more than four days ago. As Phoenix dug around and took images of the Martian soil, scientists noticed several small cubes that vanished over a span of a several days. See article.
g Life - Here’s a neat Website that contains descriptions of various extremophiles including anaerobes, thermophiles, psychrophiles, acidophiles, alkalophiles, halophiles, barophiles, and xerophiles, courtesy of the Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, London..
g Message - Some people mistakenly confuse a long search with a thorough one, and figure that the lack of a SETI detection indicates that we're alone in the galaxy. This, however, is nonsense. See article.
g Cosmicus - Unfortunately existing space law consists mostly of some inter-governmental treaties negotiated during the cold war, which are quite inappropriate for business. As an example, under existing law, governments are liable for damage caused by any launches from their territory. This is quite different from other transport industries, such as shipping and air transport, which are governed mainly by commercial law, and liability for any damage caused by an accident is borne by commercial insurance companies. There's no reason why flights to and from orbit should be different. In the worst case, a passenger launch vehicle carrying 50 people that crashed on a city would cause less damage than an airliner carrying 500 people. See article.
g Learning - Linguistics merged with computer science last week at a hands-on demonstration of spoken dialogue systems by UCSC students at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View. See article.
g Aftermath - In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. Note: This article is from 2002. See article.

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