Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Earth's chemical fingerprint and how ETI radio transmissions might affect world’s religion

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 - What is the habitable zone for the nearby star Gliese 693?
g Abodes - In a new study, a group of international scientists took the help of a lunar eclipse to take a snapshot of earth's chemical fingerprint, which could help to identify planets most similar to earth where life may be thriving. The team used some of the world's largest optical and infrared telescopes located at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory in La Palma (Canary Islands, Spain) to observe light reflected from the moon toward the earth during a lunar eclipse in 2008. See article.
g Life - Micron-sized cavities created by the actions of rock-etching microorganisms known as euendoliths are explored as a biosignature for life on early Earth and perhaps Mars. Rock-dwelling organisms can tolerate extreme environmental stresses and are excellent candidates for the colonization of early Earth and planetary surfaces. See article. Note: This article is from 2007.
g Message - Book alert: As many Earthlings already know —including more than 2 million computer users with firsthand experience — our best hope for finding extraterrestrial intelligence might just lie with an ingenious little screensaver. So it's not surprising that Brian McConnell’s “Beyond Contact: A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations,” an introduction to searching for and communicating with intelligent life, begins with some of the details behind the University of California-Berkeley's groundbreaking, massively distributed SETI@home project, which processes intergalactic noise for pennies on the teraflop. But that's just the start of the story. Inventor and software developer McConnell continues with an overview of whether and why we might find something out there, who's doing what to look for it (including the folks at Berkeley), and — once some ET picks up on the other end — what we might say and how we might say it.
g Cosmicus - Angelle Tanner, a post-doctoral scholar at JPL and Caltech, studies planets in distant solar systems, called extrasolar planets. Here are Tanner's top five "holy grails" of extrasolar planet research are hoped-for findings that she predicts will happen within the next 15 years. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat interactive Web site for kids: “Are Humans All Alone in the Universe?” In the program, kids get to search for ET — and learn some principles of science along the way. See article.
g Imagining - Book alert: A couple of years back, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author David Brin teamed up with illustrator Kevin Lenagh to offer “Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe,” the definitive guide for any fan of the Uplift series or, as Brin would have it, a training handbook for Terragen Field Agents. It’s also a great science fiction examination of what happens when two alien species contact one another. See reviews.
g Aftermath - How will major world religions be affected by the reception of radio transmissions from an extraterrestrial intelligence? Here’s an interesting project that posits some possible scenarios.

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