Friday, August 22, 2008

Researching Mars in polar bear country and ‘How to Make a Cosmic Omelet’

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 -In this interview, Hans Amundsen is a Norwegian geologist and the expedition leader of the Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition, explains how we’re researching Mars in polar bear country. See article.
g Life -Our approach to the search for life in the universe is highly influenced by our knowledge of life at home on Earth. “Life: How to Make a Cosmic Omelet, The DNA Files” looks at the ways in which genetic tools have helped define life as we know it, from bacteria found in a boiling hot spring in Yellowstone National Park to microbes found frozen (and alive!) in the Arctic. See article.
g Message -SETI isn’t just an American endeavor. The Southern SERENDIP project is using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia to search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. See this overview.
g Learning -Students from 10 schools are spending time with top Australian scientists to discuss the possibility of extraterrestrial life. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing essay that discusses what might happen if we do too little to contact extraterrestrials; as the authors argue, “…skepticism regarding SETI is at best unfounded and at worst can seriously damage the long-term prospects of humanity. If ETIs exist, no matter whether friendly or adversarial (or even beyond such simple distinctions), they are relevant for our future. To neglect this is contraryy to the basic tenets of transhumanism. To appreciate this, it is only sufficient to imagine the consequences of SETI success for any aspect of transhumanist interests, and then to affirm that such a success can only be achieved without trying if they come to us, which would obviously mean that we are hopelessly lagging in the race for galactic colonization.” See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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