Saturday, June 21, 2008

Raw materials for the first molecules of DNA and RNA in meteorites and a cryptic representation of the first ten digits of Pi

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 DX Cancri?
g Abodes - Single person submersibles have been called in to help scientists retrieve samples from a lake in northern British Columbia that may hold vital clues to the history of life on Earth and on other planets. See article.
g Life - Molecules important for the origin of life have been positively identified in a meteorite. Scientists have confirmed that raw materials for the first molecules of DNA and RNA have been discovered in the Murchison meteorite. See article.
g Message - A complex crop circle, which appeared in an English barley field last month, is a cryptic representation of the first ten digits of Pi, says Astrophysicist Mike Reed. The remaining question: Was it made by pranksters, aliens, or a guerrilla marketing team? See article.
g Cosmicus - Prototype robotic vehicles have braved sand storms and temperature swings on sand dunes in Washington State in order to prepare for lunar expeditions. The technology will one day be used to aid in returning humans to the moon. See article.
g Learning - Are we alone? Are humans unique in the universe, or is our existence the natural outcome of universal processes that produced complex life on Earth and elsewhere? As we observe the universe beyond Earth, we find that we are fundamentally a part of it. To understand the relationship of humanity to stardust requires understanding evolution in its broadest sense. Note: This article on teaching evolution in schools is from January 2001. See article.
g Aftermath - How might interested parties envisage the design of a human team to prepare for an encounter with aliens — and improve the operational guidelines for that eventuality? See article.

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