Sunday, January 18, 2009

Habitable zone for Epsilon Eridani and alien cloud creatures

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 -What is the habitable zone for the nearby star Epsilon Eridani? New information about the star shows where three possible planets in this young star system might exist.
g Abodes - According to new research, two rare meteorites found in Antarctica are from an ancient asteroid with a crust similar to that of Earth's continents. The samples are the oldest example of rock with such a composition, and shed light on the materials of the early solar system. See article.
g Life - We're one step closer to self-sustaining chemical replicators, similar to what would have existed a few billion years ago, before true cells evolved. See article.
g Intelligence - The lineages of humans and chimpanzees, our closest relatives, diverged from one another about 4.1 million years ago, according to a new estimate that is said to be far more precise than previous ranges for this critical evolutionary moment. See article.
g Message - The first episode of “I Love Lucy” was broadcast sometime on Oct. 15, 1951. About 0.0002 seconds later, the signal glided over the rooftops of the farthest city suburbs, and headed into space. It’s still going. Every day, that first installment passes through an additional 4 thousand trillion trillion trillion cubic kilometers of the cosmos. Given that stars in our galactic neighborhood are separated by about 4 light-years, it’s easy to figure that roughly 10 thousand star systems have been exposed to “I Love Lucy” in the past five decades. That may suggest a high Nielson rating, but the chance that extraterrestrials are now hooked on 1950s television is low. See article.
g Cosmicus - In this op-ed, former astronaut Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin explains why "We should reach for the moon." See article.
g Learning - Dana Backman was staffing one of the walk-by tables in a gizmos and gadgets “Share-a-thon” session at the National Science Teachers Association’s annual convention in St. Louis last month. Her demo showed how an inexpensive photocell could detect both visible light from a flashlight, and invisible near-infrared radiation from a TV remote-control unit, which is one of the four activities in her SOFIA (Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy) Active Astronomy kit. As hundreds of teachers filed by during two hours, she hawked my wares and handed out teacher guide on CD-ROMs plus web address cards to those who lingered for a conversation. And then things got interesting … See article.
g Imagining - Could “cloud creatures” exist on alien worlds? Here’s one writer’s speculations.
g Aftermath - High-tech telescopes on the ground and in space that perform daunting astronomical peep shows in a search for Earth-like worlds aim to answer one of humankind's most monumental questions: “Are we alone?” There is on-going deliberation relating to the societal, philosophical and religious fallout that stems from resolving such a stellar inquiry. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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