Saturday, October 11, 2008

Extinction events and the Golden Record

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 - Geologists studying mass extinctions in Earth's history have determined that the majority of extinction events were due to climate change rather than asteroid impacts. See article.
g Message -The two Voyager deep-space probes each hold gold-plated copper discs - called the "Golden Record" - to be played on a record player (supplied on board) and containing a snapshot of information from Earth. Assuming the aliens can assemble the player and figure out the instructions, they're in for quite a treat: a deep-space personal ad for the entire human race, assembled under the direction of Carl Sagan. But while the first couple of plaques are neat - they deal with basic number systems and offer cryptic hieroglyphic instructions on how to play the records - the remainder of the album is pretty poor, a Yale graduate student says. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus -To inspire the American people about the Vision for Space Exploration, and to focus the agency on its central mission, NASA should immediately establish a Moon and Mars Astronaut Corps. This elite cadre, set up within the existing astronaut body, would bring together the heroes who will lead the great journey ahead. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Imagining -Nobody has yet seen an extraterrestrial, which may sound like a problem in establishing a science of astrobiology. But in the past 20 years or so, scientists have found clues that life may be quite common in the universe, and many are hopeful that they will soon find hard evidence of life beyond Earth. See article.
g Aftermath - Will we ever find a primer for decoding messages from extraterrestrials? Last month, anthropologists who gathered for a major conference in Atlanta heard some news that will be sobering for SETI enthusiasts: it may be much more difficult to understand extraterrestrials than many scientists have thought before. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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