Friday, September 12, 2008

How microbes colonize inhospitable environments and a video game based on real-world SETI research

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 -At first glance, Pavilion Lake, in British Columbia, looks like just another idyllic vacation spot. But beneath its surface lie some of the most unusual carbonate formations on Earth. Unusual enough that, this summer, researchers hauled a pair of miniature submarines up the lake to find out whether or not bacteria were involved in building the distinctive structures. See article.
g Life - A team working high in the Peruvian Andes has discovered how microbes swiftly colonize barren soils uncovered by melting glaciers. The study shows how microbes are able to establish themselves in one of Earth's most extreme environments, and how these unique organisms are adapting to climate change. See article.
g Message - Most SETI programs scan the sky looking for strong radio signals. Any signals that are deemed interesting are put on a list for follow-up observations weeks, months — even years later. Long delays in verification of potential ET signals sometimes generate tantalizing, but ultimately frustrating, stories. Note: This article is from March 2003. See article.
g Learning - Electronic Arts' eagerly awaited video game, Spore, which was released earlier this week, is based on serious scientific research that is out of this world. Literally. The game, which incubated for five years in the studios of the world's leading developer of video games, takes much of its inspiration from the real-world research of the SETI Institute, an organization dedicated to the deep scientific understanding of life in all its forms on Earth and to exploration of the cosmos for evidence of life, especially intelligent life. See article.
g Aftermath - Say hello to astrobioethics, a branch of ethics involving the implications of life science in space. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future