Sunday, September 14, 2008

Signaling with Cepheid variable stars and exploring exoworlds via the Atacama Desert

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 - Evidence suggests that the interior of the Chilean Atacama Desert, the most arid region on Earth, contains no living organisms. Yet, where the desert meets the Pacific Coastal Range, desiccation-tolerant microorganisms are known to exist. The gradient of biodiversity and habitats of life in the Atacama’s subregions remain unexplored. See article.
g Life - A new study shows that early dinosaurs survived two mass extinctions before they became dominant on Earth. Interestingly, it appears that their survival may have been based on luck alone. See article.
g Message -A sufficiently advanced civilization may employ Cepheid variable stars as beacons to transmit all-call information throughout the galaxy and beyond. See article.
g Learning -Internet users can now take virtual 3-D trips to nearly anyplace on the moon, thanks to a NASA program first designed to show aerial views of the Earth. See article.
g Aftermath - For some provocative reading, pick up "Sharing the Universe," by Seth Shostak, at your local bookstore. SETI scientist Shostak almost single-handedly is outlining social and political issues that will arise once we make contact with extraterrestrials. See review.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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