Sunday, November 30, 2008

Aliens in science fiction and Endeavour returns

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 -Plate tectonics on Earth may have started much earlier than previously believed. An active Earth could have had profound implications for the origin of life. See article.
g Life - The sea-slug, Elysia chlorotica, represents a unique step in the evolution of life. The slug appears to behave like a plant and can get energy from the sun. New research shows that the slug has genes needed for photosynthesis - but steals important cellular components from algae. See article.
g Message -Among the most important SETI work is being done at Harvard University. The Harvard SETI home page discusses the Radio Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence
g Cosmicus -The space shuttle Endeavour touched down safely in California Sunday after a 16-day trip of more than 6.6 million miles. See article.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat Web site that examines aliens in science fiction films. While short on studying the evolution of those aliens, it does discuss how these villainous creatures are a manifestation of our own fears, a nice take on the anthropomorphic bias most people possess regarding alien life.
g Aftermath - Here’s an interesting book that is slated for June publication: “Contact with Alien Civilizations: Our Hopes and Fears about Encountering Extraterrestrials,” by Michael Michaud. This book describes a wide variety of speculations by many authors about the consequences for humanity of coming into contact with extraterrestrial intelligence. The assumptions underlying those speculations are examined, and some conclusions are drawn. As necessary background, the book also included brief summaries of the history of thinking about extraterrestrial intelligence, searches for life and for signals, contrasting paradigms of how contact might take place, and the paradox that those paradigms allegedly create. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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