Saturday, January 17, 2009

Geophysical energy source on Enceladus and how soon we might detect an alien signal

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 - The jets of icy particles and water vapor issuing from the south pole of Enceladus are evidence for activity driven by some geophysical energy source. See article.
g Life - By tweaking chemical strands of RNA, researchers have taken another step towards understanding how life may have first evolved on our planet. See article.
g Message - If extraterrestrials are out there, signals that would prove their existence are cascading over your body right now. Needless to say, you don’t notice. The challenge for SETI researchers is to build an instrument that will. Rising to the challenge, the SETI Institute and others are developing new search strategies and telescopes, encouraging some scientists to speculate that a signal detection will occur in the next decade or two. See article.
g Cosmicus - MIT faculty and students will play substantial roles on two of the seven teams that NASA selected to be part of its virtual Lunar Science Institute, aimed at addressing key questions about lunar science in preparation for the resumption of human visits to the moon about a decade from now. See article.
g Learning - How are key concepts of astrobiology treated in science fiction? See article. Note: This article is from 2001 and intended to be used as part of a classroom lesson.
g Aftermath - Book alert: In “Cosmic Company,” Seth Shostak and Alex Barnett ponder the possibility of aliens visiting the Earth, as well as the consequences of receiving a signal from the cosmos proving we're neither alone, nor the most intelligent life forms. They explain why scientists think life might exist on other worlds, and how we might contact it. Shostak and Barnett, experienced writers of popular astronomy, provide an accessible overview of the science and technology behind the search for life in the universe. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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