Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Arguments against the rare earth hypothesis and why SETI should continue

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 - George Dvorsky takes on the rare earth hypothesis in his Sentient Developments blog, calling it a “delusion” and noting all the reasons why life in the galaxy is unlikely to be unusual See article.
g Life - Astrobiology theories fall between two positions. One is the mediocrity principle, which posits that we are not in any way special, and given the enormous numbers of galaxies, stars, etc, life - including intelligent variants - exists on many other planets. The other is the anthropic principle, which holds that the universe is optimal for human existence and hence we are the sole intelligent life form. The problem with both positions is that they base their statistics on a single sample. See article. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Message - The NASA Astrobiology Conference in April 2008 had as one of its topics, Future SETI: Technologies, Techniques and Strategies. Its premise was that after five decades of negative results from radio and optical SETI searches, there should be new approaches to the problem like detecting the biosignature of an extra solar planet. This premise regarding SETI is not supported by reality. In actual fact, very little systematic radio or optical SETI exploration has been performed. See article.
g Cosmicus - Astronauts aboard the International Space Station Sunday were forced to change the orbit of the station - and the Space Shuttle Discovery that is currently docked to it - to avoid an estimated 4-inch piece of space junk that may have been on a collision course. See article.
g Learning - In February, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) decried the presence of expanded funding for "something called 'volcano monitoring' " in President Obama's stimulus package, turning the geologic program into a flash point for fiscal conservatives and raising the ire of scientists. Earlier this week, policymakers got a chance to reemphasize the importance of the monitoring program after Alaska's Mount Redoubt erupted overnight, sending five explosive bursts of ash and steam as far as nine miles into the air and shutting down many flights at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. See article.

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