Monday, July 28, 2008

Alaska—Mars analog and interstellar messaging

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 G 099-049?
g Abodes -Two geology professors have hypothesized that landscape features in Alaska are also seen on Mars, and the processes that formed those features are the same on both planets. See article.
g Life - Scientists have shown evidence that microbes living deep below the oceans of Earth make up a carbon reserve of about 90 billion tons. The study highlights the abundance and importance of microbes on Earth. See article.
g Message - Here’s a neat Web site: “Interstellar Messaging.” You’ll find discussion, history and real-world examples of mankind's methods and ongoing attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials. See article.
g Learning -Book alert: Astrobiology - which studies the intimate relationship between life and the cosmos - is a fast-growing field that touches on aspects of cosmology, astrophysics, and chemistry. In the first scholarly overview of this dynamic field, biochemists Kevin W. Plaxco and Michael Gross tell the story of life from the Big Bang to the present. Emphasizing the biochemical nature of astrobiology, Plaxco and Gross examine the origin of the chemical elements, the events behind the developments that made our Universe habitable, and the ongoing sustenance of life. They discuss the formation of first galaxies and stars, the diverse chemistry of the primordial planet, the origins of metabolism, the evolution of complex organisms, and the feedback regulation of Earth's climate. They also explore life in extreme habitats, potential extraterrestrial habitats, and the search for extraterrestrial life. This broadly accessible introduction captures the excitement, controversy, and evolution of the dynamic young field of astrobiology. It shows clearly how scientists from different disciplines can combine their special knowledge to enhance our understanding of the Universe that we inhabit. See book excerpt.
g Aftermath - Douglas Vakoch is one of a relatively small collection of scientists addressing the question of how to talk back to extraterrestrials. While most researchers involved in the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence come from physics and engineering backgrounds, Vakoch draws on a background in linguistics, sociology and psychology to explore SETI-related issues. Here’s an interview with him from Aug. 2003 about communicating with ET. See article.

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