Sunday, April 05, 2009

How planetary crust effects life’s formation and life at the tropics vs. life at the poles

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars - A brilliant burst of gamma rays may have caused a mass extinction event on Earth 440 million years ago—and a similar celestial catastrophe could happen again, according to a new study. See article.
g Abodes - Book review: Comprising a planet's outermost portion, the crust is by far its most accessible part, and in the case of Earth it is of critical importance to sustaining life. However, the bewildering array of worlds in the Solar System means that in spite of this accessibility, a coherent understanding of crusts of the solid planets has not yet emerged. In their new treatise, S. Ross Taylor and Scott McLennan have attempted to systematically survey the available evidence and current theory for crustal formation in all the observed bodies in the Solar System, and to construct a framework for understanding their diversity. See review.
g Life - The diversity of life on Earth is concentrated near the equator, with a steep fall off towards the poles. A recent study finds this is because new species tend to form in the tropics and then migrate out. This historical pattern might point to a fundamental property of life. See article.
g Intelligence - Simulations that say about 361 intelligent civilizations exist in the galaxy work with several contrasting hypotheses, for each of which statistical methods were applied. See article.
g Message - NPR’s Science Friday included a conversation on astrobiology, the origins of life and the possibility we're not alone in the universe. Here’s a recording of the broadcast.
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site for amateur astronomers: The Clear Sky Chart. It shows at a glance when, in the next 48 hours, we might expect clear and dark skies for one specific observing site.

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