Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Habitable zones of Alpha Centauri and protocell model

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 are the habitable zones for the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri ABC?
g Life - Researchers have modeled a primitive cell, or protocell, that is capable of building, copying and containing DNA. The study could help us understand how the earliest cells on Earth formed and evolved. See article.
g Message - After 20 years of listening for signs of life elsewhere in the universe, The Planetary Society is now watching the skies. On April 11, 2006 the Society dedicated a brand new optical telescope at an observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts, designed solely to search for light signals from alien civilizations - a search known as Optical SETI. See article.
g Cosmicus - A British space expert described the Phoenix Mars probe's successful landing as a "massive step forward" in the quest to establish whether life can exist on the Red Planet. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s a hidden gem about alien contact: the science fiction story “Contact, Incorporated”, about a private company that Earth’s government hires to make first contact with extraterrestrials. It’s from 1950 and appears in the seminal classic, “The Classic Book of Science Fiction,” edited by Groff Conklin (your library ought to have this volume). Despite being more than a half-century old, it remains an intriguing examination of how to communicate with aliens.