Monday, September 15, 2008

Timing of life's origin on Earth and societal implications of astrobiology

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 -A new study of carbon in seafloor sediments is helping scientists better understand the timing of life's origin on Earth. The findings may also change our assumptions about the history of Earth's carbon cycle. See article.
g Message -Book alert: Scour your used bookstore shelves for “Life Beyond Earth,” by Timothy Ferris. Rock-solid science writer Ferris has covered this ground before. In the two-hour PBS documentary that he wrote and narrated - which shares the title, text, and many of the images of this generously illustrated book - Ferris tackles two age-old questions about the potentially universal nature of life: Are we alone, and, if not, is anybody listening? See reviews.
g Cosmicus -Researchers, students and professionals from around the world gathered in July at the NASA Lunar Science Conference to discuss the future of robotic and human exploration of the moon. See article.
g Learning - Some liken it to having your own personal universe: You can stretch out a creature's body, or add a pair of kangaroo-like legs, then set the process of evolution in train. You can establish tribes, adorn them with crowns and feathers, build civilizations, sculpt entire worlds and explore a cosmos populated with the creations of others, from three-eyed tripods to looming multi-beaked birds or little one-legged hoppers. And unlike the real thing, it does not take millions of years, but takes place over a matter of hours and days. Welcome to the virtual cosmos of Spore. See article.
g Aftermath - What are the societal implications of astrobiology? A NASA workshop in 1999 set out to determine what they might be. Here’s their report.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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