Sunday, June 01, 2008

Martian hydrothermal vents and how we’re trying to contact E.T.I.

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 Luyten 726-8 A/UV Ceti?
g Abodes - NASA's Spirit rover has discovered deposits on Mars that resemble those seen around hydrothermal vents on Earth. The finding has important implications in understanding whether or not Mars once supported habitats suitable for life. See article.
g Message - It's possible to split up the methods of finding extraterrestrial life into two categories; humans trying to discover extraterrestrial life, and humans trying to be discovered by extraterrestrial life. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus -NASA's Phoenix lander has freed its nearly 8-foot robotic arm. This will allow the lander to dig into the Martian soil and determine if this region of the Red Planet was ever habitable for life. Phoenix also sent more detailed images of the Martian surface. See article.
g Learning - When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution's truth beyond reasonable doubt. Today that battle has been won everywhere — except in the public imagination. Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy. They lobby for creationist ideas such as "intelligent design" to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms. As this article goes to press, the Ohio Board of Education is debating whether to mandate such a change. Some antievolutionists, such as Philip E. Johnson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley and author of "Darwin on Trial," admit that they intend for intelligent-design theory to serve as a "wedge" for reopening science classrooms to discussions of God. See article.
g Aftermath - To create interstellar messages that have a realistic chance of being understood across interstellar distances, we need to identify some information shared by humans and extraterrestrials. We need to identify a foundation for establishing a universal language that will let us bridge the gap between our world and theirs, all without the convenience of face-to-face contact. See article. Note: This article is from 2002. See article.

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