Sunday, September 07, 2008

Viruses vs. living cells and alien interstellar probes

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 Life - A new computational method for tracing the evolution of proteins may help scientists determine how life on Earth began…and solve the question of whether or not viruses developed before living cells. See article.
g Message -Interstellar transmissions via energy-markers (photons) or matter-markers (probes) appear to be energetically indistinguishable alternatives for advanced technical societies. Since only Type II and Type III civilizations realistically can afford beacons or star probe technology, alternative distinguishability criteria suggest the possible superiority of intelligent artifacts for contact and communication missions among extraterrestrial cultures. A balanced, more cost-effective Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence strategy is needed. See article.
g Cosmicus - The residents of the International Space Station will receive a new shipment of food, fuel and supplies next week. NASA Television will broadcast its arrival live. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat book for introductory astronomy courses: "Lecture Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy." Funded by the National Science Foundation, Lecture-Tutorials for Introductory Astronomy are designed to help make large lecture-format courses more interactive. Each of the 29 Lecture-Tutorials is presented in a classroom-ready format, challenges students with a series of carefully designed questions that spark classroom discussion, engage students in critical reasoning and requires no equipment. See article.
g Aftermath - How might we characterize the political significance of any announcement of discovering extraterrestrial intelligence? How about using the Torino Scale, which characterizes asteroid impacts, as a model to assist the discussion and interpretation of any claimed discovery of ETI? See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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