Thursday, September 11, 2008

Strange oxygen isotopes in a meteorite and how microbial life becomes established in an extreme environment

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 Stars -Forty years ago, strange oxygen isotopes in a meteorite were found to be different than any known planetary rock – including those from Earth and Mars. Scientists are getting closer to solving the riddle, and providing new information about the early solar system in the process. See article.
g Abodes -The origin of microscopic meteorites in cosmic dust has been revealed. A new study shows that some of the cosmic dust constantly falling to Earth originates from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars. See article.
g Life - A University of Colorado at Boulder team working at 16,400 feet in the Peruvian Andes has discovered how barren soils uncovered by retreating glacier ice can swiftly establish a thriving community of microbes, setting the table for lichens, mosses and alpine plants. The discovery is the first to reveal how microbial life becomes established and flourishes in one of the most extreme environments on Earth and has implications for how life may have once flourished on Mars. See article.
g Message - Since there is a general agreement that the laws of nature are the same everywhere in our universe, it follows that mathematics must be universal and therefore it must be the same for every intelligent being in the universe. So, a language for SETI communication based on mathematics can be constructed. But the fact that mathematics has turned out to be so strictly entangled with material reality also establishes very sharp limitations to its efficacy for our purposes and the need of an integration with (at least) a pictorial language. See article.
g Cosmicus -Doomsday predictions surrounding the start-up of Europe's Large Hadron Collider - a giant particle-smasher designed to explore the origins of the universe - come as little surprise to physicists. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat, interactive Web site that shows how gravity works with different solar system configuration. See article.
g Aftermath - Even if the public seems less than awestruck by the prospect that alien life is a bunch of microscopic bugs, astrobiologists say unequivocal discovery of microbial life beyond Earth will change human society in profound ways, some unfathomable today. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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