Thursday, June 26, 2008

Martian water vaporizes and how simple processes may have laid the foundation for life

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 Lacaille 8760?
g Abodes - Crumbs of bright material have vanished from inside a trench after they were photographed by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander several days ago. Scientists are convinced that the material was frozen water that vaporized. See article.
g Life - Scientists have developed a new model explaining how simple processes may have laid the foundation for life. Based on simple chemical and physical laws, the model shows how interactions between just a few chemicals can lead to novel combinations of molecules of greater complexity. This emergence of complexity in natural systems is essential in understanding how life as we know it began. See article.
g Message - The universe is a noisy place, filled with the hiss and crackle of stars being born and dying. There is little escape from this cosmic din, except in one small region of the radio dial — the microwave band. Here, only the faint whimper of the Big Bang breaks the silence, making it a "really good place to communicate," according to Dan Werthimer of Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory, perched close to the stars atop Grizzly Peak. Note: This article is from 2000. See article.
g Learning - What is the Carl Sagan Center? Astrobiology has become one of the hottest fields of science, and one of the most interesting to the general public. Research in astrobiology has spread widely, with many major universities and other research institutions establishing active programs. Scientists at the SETI Institute have been doing astrobiology research for more that two decades. See article.
g Imagining - Looking for an interesting read? Here's a nifty anthology of science fiction that for the most part approaches extraterrestrials from a hard science fiction perspective: "Aliens and UFOs: Extraterrestrial Tales from Asimov's Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact," by Cynthia Manson, Charles Ardai. It was published in 1993. For reviews of the book. See article.
g Aftermath - It is hard to imagine what an extraterrestrial life form might think if confronted with the words "you're human / they are human / we are human / let's try to be human / dance!" See article. Note: This article is from 2005.

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