Monday, January 26, 2009

Why cyanobacteria didn’t poison itself and ‘Why Evolution is True’

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 collection of rocks that the Apollo astronauts brought back from the moon carried with it a riddle that has puzzled scientists since the early 1970s: What produced the magnetization found in many of those rocks? See article.
g Life - Researchers have long been puzzled as to how cyanobacteria billions of years ago could make the Earth’s oxygen without poisoning themselves. To avoid their DNA getting wrecked by a hydroxyl radical that naturally occurs in the production of oxygen, the cyanobacteria would have had to evolve protective enzymes. But how could natural selection have led the cyanobacteria to evolve these enzymes if the need for them didn't even exist yet? See article.
g Message - Most SETI programs scan the sky looking for strong radio signals. Any signals that are deemed interesting are put on a list for follow-up observations weeks, months — even years later. Long delays in verification of potential ET signals sometimes generate tantalizing, but ultimately frustrating, stories. See article. Note: This article is from March 2003.
g Learning - Book alert: Jerry Coyne's lucid, accessible "Why Evolution Is True" desperately needed. With logic and clarity, the University of Chicago professor presents the vast trove of scientific evidence that supports Darwin's theory. See review.
g Aftermath - If you’re not familiar with’s “Great Debates series, you’ll want to head right away to their Web site. The discussions draw upon experts in the astrobiology field. The Fermi Paradox (“If there’s intelligent life out there, then why haven’t we heard from them?”) is examined in six parts.

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