Sunday, August 31, 2008

Organic molecule around an exoplanet and sequencing the genome of a primitive animal

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 Abodes - Scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have been able to detect the chemical signature of methane in the atmosphere of a planet orbiting a star 63 light-years away. It's the first detection of an organic molecule around an exoplanet, a planet outside our solar system. The observations also confirmed previous work that detected the presence of water in the atmosphere. See article.
g Life - In sequencing the genome of a primitive animal, scientists are gaining new insights into the tree of life. Even though it’s a simple animal, Trichoplax adhaerens has a complex set of genes and may signify a branching point in animal evolution. See article.
g Message -What would be a sign of alien intelligence? Forget mathematics — try a simple, pure-tone radio signal. See article.
g Aftermath - The recent Hollywood movie “War of the Worlds” by Steven Spielberg is garnering much attention, but it's nothing like that accorded the 1938 radio version of H.G. Wells' novel. The extent of the panic that broadcast caused is still debated. So what really happened that night? See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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