Friday, September 05, 2008

Planetary oxygen loss and Sid the Science Kid

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 -Using satellite observations, scientists have discovered why the Earth is constantly leaking oxygen into space. The finding provides insight into the mechanisms behind oxygen loss on our planet. See article.
g Message -Fermi’s Paradox, Part II: Could galactic empires exist? In a previous article, we noted that there has been plenty of time for aliens keen on colonizing the Milky Way to pull it off. However, we see no signs of galactic federation ("Star Trek" aside). Why does the cosmos look so untouched and unconquered? What is keeping advanced extraterrestrials from claiming every star system in sight? See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Learning -PBS has employed Sid, who is animated in a process called digital puppetry, as an ambassador for what education types might call science readiness in a new TV show called “Sid the Science Kid.” See article.
g Imagining -The sci-fi industry is massive with nearly every conceivable genre being developed at a frightening pace. A few decades ago wobbly plastic aliens terrorized mainstream viewers while Captain Kirk shagged his way through the ones with mystical powers of soft focus. Thankfully those days are largely dead — or are they? See article.
g Aftermath - Book alert: “Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life, and the Theological Implications,” by Steven J. Dick (ed.), 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. Paul C.W. Davies argues that if the universe turns out to be biofriendly (i.e., if given enough time and the right conditions, life will emerge as a matter of course), scientifically savvy thinkers may be compelled to reject atheism and embrace intelligent design theory. The contributors are especially interested in extraterrestrial life: philosopher Ernan McMullin, for example, argues that extraterrestrial intelligence will force Christians to do some hard thinking about original sin, the human soul, and the Incarnation. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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