Monday, February 09, 2009

Trail of carbon from dying star and a scientific quest to answer questions about alien life

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 - Astronomers found a tail of carbon, oxygen, and other material trailing behind a dying star called Mira. See article.
g Life - Scientists have determined that formations once identified as ancient tubeworm fossils are actually the remnants of 70-million-year-old methane vents. The discovery highlights how our understanding of life's evolution can change in light of new scientific evidence. See article.
g Message - Could humans be the only intelligent beings in all the vastness of the universe? Or are we just one humble race, a member of a vast intergalactic fraternity of advanced civilizations? SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is the scientific quest to answer these great unknowns. See article.
g Cosmicus - This month marks the 10th anniversary of the launch of NASA's Stardust spacecraft, which is now more than 8.4 million miles from Earth. See article.
g Learning - The 1859 publication of "On the Origin of Species" changed scientific thought forever — and generated opposition that continues to this day. It is this elegant explanation of how species evolve through natural selection that makes Darwin's 200th birthday on Feb. 12 such a major event. See article.

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