Thursday, October 01, 2009

How comets may have affected life at the molecular level and first contact by 2010?

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - Billions of years ago, comets may have ferried life-sustaining water to our planet's surface, but that may not be all that we should thank these dirty snowballs for. Researchers are simulating comet impacts to see if they might help proliferate the left-handedness in molecules that life on Earth depends upon. See article.
g Life - 1n 1953, a University of Chicago graduate student named Stanley Miller working in Harold Urey's lab flipped a switch sending electric current through a chamber containing a combination of methane, ammonia, hydrogen and water. The experiment yielded organic compounds including amino acids, the building blocks of life, and catapulted a field of study known as exobiology into the headlines. Since that time a new understanding of the workings of RNA and DNA, have increased the scope of the subject. Moreover, the discovery of prebiotic conditions on other planets and the announcement of a bacterial fossil originating on Mars has brought new attention to the study of life's origins. Here’s an interview with Dr. Miller in his lab at UCSD about the field he has helped to make famous, exobiology.
g Message - By 2010 we will know if nearby planets are inhabited. That's the amazing claim that Stuart Clark - director of public astronomy education at the University of Hertfordshire - makes in his thought-provoking book, “Life on Other Worlds and How to Find It.” See article. We’re just a few months from finding out of his prediction is correct!
g Cosmicus - NASA has completed calibration work on the Spitzer Space Telescope for its new "warm" observing mission. See article.
g Aftermath - It is sometimes said that the best form of advertising is education. But what products would our global marketplace tolerate at the borders of an encounter with another, perhaps far different civilization? To get some perspective, an expert entertains the question of how to advertise our presence to a more universal demographic. See article. Note: This article came out in 2004.

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