Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Microbes distinct from known biomass and neural network behind sound production in vertebrates traced back to marine organisms

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 GJ 682?
g Abodes -The Phoenix Mars Lander is continuing to dig into the Martian soil. A fork-like probe will help determine how much frozen or unfrozen water is in the soil, while a microscope examines the shapes of tiny soil particles. See article.
g Life - Tiny microbes beneath the sea floor, distinct from life on the Earth's surface, may account for one-tenth of the Earth's living biomass, according to an interdisciplinary team of researchers, but many of these minute creatures are living on a geologic timescale. See article.
g Intelligence -Scientists have discovered that the neural network behind sound production in vertebrates can be traced back to marine organisms. The finding provides a unique perspective on life's evolutionary mechanisms. See article.
g Message -If you've ever seen the movie “Contact”, you'll know the alien-hunter stereotype: quirky, visionary loners who sit up all night listening to static, hoping for the signal that will change the world. That's probably not far off from real life, except that SETI (that's Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) scientists are getting creative. At the recent Astrobiology Science Conference, 2008, they're presenting new ways of looking for little green men, including watching for signs of alien lasers, infrared signals, and even gravity waves. See article.
g Cosmicus -Few believe that the discovery of extraterrestrial life is imminent. However, just as scientists long theorized that there were planets orbiting other stars - but could not prove it until new technologies and insights broke the field wide open - many astrobiologists now see their job as to develop new ways to search for the life they are sure is out there. See article.
g Imagining -The Global Catastrophic Risks conference started yesterday morning and death by asteroids, comets and gamma ray bursts was on the agenda as experts discussed the statistical likelihood of these types of global catastrophes. See article.
g Aftermath - Is SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—a religion? See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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