Thursday, September 04, 2008

Extreme environments on Earth and Planets in a Bottle

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 - Some scientists are hoping to learn more about alien life forms by looking not into outer space, but at some of the most extreme environments here on Earth. See article.
g Message -Fermi’s Paradox, Part I: Is there obvious proof that we could be alone in the Galaxy? Enrico Fermi, an icon of physics, thought so — might he have been right? Fermi is best remembered for building a working atomic reactor in a squash court. But in 1950, Fermi made a seemingly innocuous lunchtime remark that has caught and held the attention of every SETI researcher since (How many luncheon quips have you made with similar consequence?). See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Learning -Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: “Planets in a Bottle.” The lesson plan involves yeast experiments intended for 2nd through 4th grade students. See article.
g Aftermath - Book alert: “Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life, and the Theological Implications”, by Steven J. Dick (editor), is a provocative collection examining science's impact on theology. Based on a 1998 conference sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, this collection of essays opens with the observation that the Copernican revolution looks insignificant when compared to the discoveries made about the earth and the universe in the last century: we now know, for example, that the universe is billions (not thousands) of light-years big; that it is expanding, not static; that our galaxy is just one of many, not the entirety of the universe. But from looking at modern theology, you wouldn't think anything had changed. The contributors (who include physicists, philosophers, historians of science, and theologians) suggest that cosmological advances might reshape the very fundamentals of theology.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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