Friday, November 28, 2008

Planet hunting and panspermia challenged

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 -Planet hunters searching for planets suitable for life will likely find them first around low-mass stars because it's technically easier than finding such planets around hotter, more massive stars, researchers predict. See article.
g Abodes - NASA and ESA are now deciding on the next major mission to the outer solar system. One proposal is to visit two of Jupiter’s large moons, Ganymede and Europa. Astrobiologists have long hoped to study Europa more closely because its global ocean could harbor alien life. See article.
g Life - A new paper challenges panspermia, the theory of origin that primitive life may have originally formed extraterrestrially. See article.
g Message -Carl Sagan’s bestseller, "Contact," was made into a movie in 1997 in which Jodie Foster played the role of the ice-cream cone-eating chief protagonist Ellie Arroway. Yet, after all these years, you just can’t miss the similarities Ellie shares with her real-life role model Jill Tarter, on whom Sagan based most part of the character. See article.
g Cosmicus - Astronauts have fixed a urine-recycling unit on the International Space Station, needed to support a six-person crew at the research outpost next year. See article.
g Learning -On a recent flight to California, I found myself looking at man-made structures in the Nevada desert and wondering: did I really know, in a scientifically valid way, that they were artificial? Or was I simply resorting to the principles of Intelligent Design, which in other contexts I'm quick to discredit? See article.
g Imagining - The secrets of the universe remain a mystery to us, but that doesn’t stop us from making guesses. An author who writes a science fiction novel tries to base it around the technology and knowledge that we have available to us. Those tidbits of knowledge are then exaggerated to great lengths, and then set into the future, on other planets, in other dimensions in time, or under new variants of scientific law. This process is called extrapolation, and becomes the premise of the story. Here’s a Web page that works in reverse, by taking the scientific aspects from classic works of science fiction and explaining how they relate to astrobiology.
g Aftermath - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read J.M. Dillard’s novel “Star Trek: First Contact” (based on a screenplay by Brannon Bragga and Ron Moore and published by Pocket in 1996).

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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