Monday, August 31, 2009

AMASE update and disproving cometary panspermia

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 - Far north in the arctic, the AMASE 2009 expedition team is collecting samples of unique life that inhabits the glacial ice of Svalbard, Norway. The expedition is a test for technology that could one day be used in the search for life on Mars. See article.
g Life - A young scientist claims to have disproved a theory that living bacteria from space called “Cometary Panspermia” could have led to the origin and spread of diseases like SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) that ravaged many countries in early 2000. See article.
g Message - Among the most important SETI work is being done at Harvard University. Here's the Harvard SETI home page. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “Looking back from the year 3000 – some 40 generations hence – most of the historical and political issues that concern us now will have been forgotten. World War II will seem as distant as the Battle of Hastings does to us now. The geopolitical landscape will have transformed into an astropolitical landscape. Our science will seem quaint and embryonic. However, the desire to better know our place in the universe, to push the frontiers, to explore beyond one more barrier, will remain.” – Steven J. Dick
g Aftermath - Douglas Vakoch is one of a relatively small collection of scientists addressing the question of how to talk back to extraterrestrials. While most researchers involved in the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence come from physics and engineering backgrounds, Vakoch draws on a background in linguistics, sociology and psychology to explore SETI-related issues. Here’s an interview with him from 2003 about communicating with ET.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why stellar discs evolve differing shapes and what the Koran says about ETI

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 - Astrobiologists have long studied dusty disks around stars in order to better understand how planets form and evolve. One longstanding mystery is why these disks can have such a wide variety of unique and complicated shapes. Now, a new NASA study may have some answers. See article.
g Message - Regardless of what causes gamma-ray bursters, they could be the key to discovering life elsewhere in the universe. An astrophysicist says smart aliens might use the bursts to alert us to their messages. See article. Note: This article is from 1999.
g Cosmicus - A dust storm is causing problems for NASA's Mars Exploration Rover, Spirit. The mission team on Earth is now anxiously watching the weather reports from Mars. They hope that Spirit will soon be on the move, continuing its mission to search for signs that Mars was once habitable. See article.
g Aftermath - This very well could be the first book on the topic of ETIs and Islam: Sayeedur Rahman “Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Amazing New Insights from Qur'an in the Light of its Own True Nature.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Saturday, August 29, 2009

How climate change affects biospheres and Hollywood’s vision of ETI

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 - By modeling ice sheets in Antarctica, scientists have changed the way we think about Earth's transition 34 million years ago from warm “greenhouse” to the current, cool “icehouse.” The new study has important implications for how we understand climate change and its effects on the biosphere. See article.
g Message - A pair of U.S. astrobiologists have come up with a cunningly simply way of attracting the attention of alien lifeforms - just cover half the Moon's surface with mirrors to throw back some extra sunlight in ET's direction. See article. Note: This article is from 2008.
g Imagining - Hollywood never seems to have a shortage of films that harbor the possibility of extraterrestrial life in the Universe. You've got elite blockbusters like E.T., Independence Day, Star Wars, Superman, and more recently – Transformers. And still, we have yet to find stories outside those just borne out of the human mind that show other life forms outside ours do exist. See article.
g Aftermath - Galileo’s discoveries caused humans to reconsider their place in the universe and forced the Catholic Church to confront what it held sacred in its understanding of God’s creation. Should we expect the same to occur when we make first contact with ETI? See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Friday, August 28, 2009

Beaming messages to Gliese 581d and why changing American space policy

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Life - Life may have been significantly affected in the past by a cosmic ray blast, but researchers are still looking for the smoking gun. See article.
g Message - 25,880 messages were collected by the project from places as far flung as the Vatican City, Afghanistan and Antarctica. NASA will beam them towards Gliese 581d at noon today. See article.
g Cosmicus - It’s time to find out if humans can permanently live and work in space, according to an article written by Mark Sykes and published in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson, Arizona’s morning newspaper. “This has never been a part of U.S. space policy, despite a long history of public relations implying the opposite,” Sykes says.
g Aftermath - Will ET be altruistic or hostile? An Internet poll found a strong connection between people’s beliefs about extraterrestrials and their feelings about how meaningful life is. What makes the results even more compelling is that they match the findings of an earlier study conducted under more stringent testing conditions. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Surviving post-apocalypse blackout and theological/ philosophical consequences of first contact

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 - Scientists have shed new light on the processes behind the Ice Ages experienced by Earth over the past 2.5 million years. Research indicates that they are ultimately linked to shifts in solar radiation caused by changes in the Earth's rotation and axis. See article.
g Life - A team of scientists has examined how life can survive in a post-apocalypse blackout. See article.
g Message - Extraterrestrial civilizations may find it more efficient to communicate by sending material objects across interstellar distances rather than beams of electromagnetic radiation. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - In recognition of 70 years of pioneering aerospace research and its significant contributions to aerospace history, NASA Ames Research Center today was honored as a 2009 Historic Aerospace Site by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. See article.
g Aftermath - Clearly, if we are not alone in the universe, there are some unavoidable theological and philosophical consequences. We feel that the problem of extraterrestrial life is one of the most important questions raised in science to the present. We should reflect on the consequences of a positive result of either finding extraterrestrial microorganisms, or receiving a radio message form an extraterrestrial source: When such discovery occurs, the implications are likely to have an impact on our culture requiring adjustments possibly more radical than those arising from the evidence that humans descend from microorganisms. See article. Note: This paper is from 1999.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Building block of biology in comet and testing a future Mars rover named FIDO

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 581?
g Abodes - We live in a new age of discovery, the first days of a new renaissance. It is the dawn of the age of planets. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Life - Showing that the ingredients for life in the universe may be distributed far more widely than previously thought, scientists have found traces of a key building block of biology in dust snatched from the tail of a comet. See article.
g Message - Throughout the entire history of terrestrial civilization, only a few projects involving transmitting of interstellar radio messages have yet been fully developed and realized. Yet if all civilizations in the universe are only recipients, and not message-sending civilizations, than no SETI searches make any sense. Here’s a presentation on the theory and methodology of composing and transmitting of future IRMs. See article.
g Cosmicus - Adrienne Kish discusses the steps that were taken to prepare the FIDO rover for its first appearance on Svalbard, where it is collecting samples and looking for signs of life in preparation for Mars. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing entry from the “Interdisciplinary Encyclopeadia of Religion and Science”: “Extraterrestrial Life”. It discusses the consequences of alien contact from a Catholic perspective.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Preparing for future astrobiology missions on Mars and what would you say to ETI?

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 - New estimates by scientists suggest that the black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy may be twice as big as originally thought, and possibly large enough to measure directly. See article.
g Message - Here’s a neat article in which SETI supporter Larry Klaes discusses at the Allen Telescope Array. See article.
g Cosmicus - Driving a rover on Mars and obtaining useful scientific information is something you don't learn from one day to another. You need a lot of training and you need to be able to work with people that have different scientific backgrounds. One way to learn it is by carrying out the Science Operation Work Group during the AMASE expedition. The 2009 AMASE SOWG was a combined NASA/ESA effort aimed at learning how to prepare for running future missions that will search for life on Mars. See article.
g Aftermath - If you could send a message to an extraterrestrial somewhere across the galaxy, what would you say? Post your own message or read some of the highlighted submissions at this Web site.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Monday, August 24, 2009

Global warming in 47 million BC and the Drake Equation

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 system GJ 2139 ABC?
g Abodes - Research suggests that a period of global warming strongly influenced plants and animals some 53 million to 47 million years ago during the Eocene epoch. The study could help scientists understand the effects that climate change will have in Earth's future. See article.
g Message - Is there life "out there"? If so, is it intelligent life? One way we can address the issue is to make a reasoned guess, based upon everything we know about astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, and a host of other disciplines. Many years ago the radio astronomer Frank Drake did just this, combining all the "knowledge" in the form of a mathematical equation now named for him: The Drake Equation. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA has cleared space shuttle Discovery for liftoff Tuesday, and the weather looks promising as long as thunderstorms stay away during fueling. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s something I dug up from the Toronto Star in 2002 article: “Discovery Of Extraterrestrial Life Could Have Profound Impact On Religion” by reporter on the religion beat.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Sunday, August 23, 2009

How life survived asteroid impacts and looking for messages left for us during the past several hundred million years

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Life - Natural catastrophes such as asteroid impacts, massive volcanic eruptions or large-scale wildfires would have periodically plunged our planet into abnormal darkness. How did life survive without the sun's life-giving rays during such episodes? With a little help from organisms that can switch to another source of energy while they wait for sunlight to pierce the darkness once more. See article.
g Message - The world-renowned physicist Lee Smolin author of “Life of the Cosmos” says that what we should look for to confirm the existence of intelligent life in the Milky Way is a message left for us some time in the last several hundred million years. See article.
g Learning - Stories about the fictional planet Nibiru and predictions of doomsday in December 2012 have blossomed on the Internet. As of June 2009, more than 175 books listed on Amazon.com dealing with the 2012 doomsday. As this hoax spreads, many more disaster scenarios are being suggested. “Ask an Astrobiologist” has received nearly a thousand questions about Nibiru and 2012, with more than 200 answers posted. Many new questions are similar to those already answered. Here is a list of the most popular “Twenty Questions” organized in a logical succession and answered in some detail.
g Aftermath - You may have to really scour used book stores for this one: 1976’s “ETI: The First Encounter” considers the consequences to man's view of himself and his world of the first proven contact — when it comes — with beings from another planet. Edited by James L. Christian, this book led the way in reflecting on the next stage in man's gradual self-discovery. See the table of contents and ISBN.


Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Saturday, August 22, 2009

First animals fed by osmosis and an update on the Allen Telescope Array

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 - Evidence for rocky planets has been found in one of humanity's most beloved star clusters. See article. Note: This article is from 2007.
g Life - New research shows that the oldest complex lifeforms on Earth likely fed by osmosis. The organisms lived in the oceans more than 540 million years ago and absorbed nutrients through their outer membrane. The study provides new insight into the evolution of life on Earth. See article.
g Message - The possibility of intelligent life is what interests scientists at SETI. Using SETI's 42-antenna Allen Telescope Array in Northern California, they can listen in many directions for unusual radio signals coming from space. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “The development of space colonies would free us from our gravitational hole and could lead to an advance for humanity equal in significance to the advance life made with its colonisation of dry land after spending three billion years confined to the seas and rivers of the world.” - Edward Ashpole, “The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence”
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing paper published in 2005 and translated from German for Astrosociology.com: “Futurological Reflections on the Confrontation of Mankind with an Extraterrestrial Civilization.” See paper.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Friday, August 21, 2009

Our cosmic cloud origin and why we owe thanks to two microscopic, single-celled organisms

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 cosmic cloud that is crowded with budding stars and planetary systems is teaching scientists about the environment that our own solar system may have emerged from. See article.
g Life - Humans might not be walking on Earth today if not for the ancient fusing of two microscopic, single-celled organisms called prokaryotes, NASA-funded research has found. See article.
g Intelligence - Quote of the Day: “Is it possible that Europe is inhabited and other parts of the world are not?” – Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, asking rhetorically if saying Earth is the only inhabited planet is sensible
g Message - Our best chance of picking up a broadcast from intelligent aliens is when the Earth is closest to being directly between our Sun and the transmitting alien star. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Aftermath - Book alert: Science fiction writers have given us many fine novels contemplating humankind's first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. But our nonfiction world has not thought much about what to do if we are actually faced with this situation. Jean Heidmann, Chief Astronomer at the Paris Observatory (and self-styled bioastronomer), offers a book, “Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” on the subject that is at once serious and fun. Heidmann's obvious joy in raw speculation — all of it grounded in real science — is contagious. If aliens send us a message from many light years away, for example, how should we respond? See reviews.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Searching for exomoons and running the Drake Equation

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 - Astrophysicists used the Spitzer Space Telescope to scan a cluster of about 500 stars for evidence of a collision similar to the one that produced Earth's moon. The telescope searches in the infrared part of the spectrum, which allows researchers to search for the dust clouds created by massive collisions. The surface area of the dust would absorb light from the star and become warm. Researchers hypothesize that a maximum of five to ten percent of all moons form in the way that the Earth's did. See article. Note: This article is from 2008.
g Message - In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake wrote the equation that put the search for alien civilizations on a scientific footing and launched the modern SETI movement. How do the numbers look today? See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “What was most significant about the first lunar voyage was not that men set foot on the moon, but that they set eye on the Earth.” – Norman Cousins
g Aftermath - What if we did contact another intelligent life form in the universe? Should we respond? What should we say? What traits best represent our humanity? Douglas Vakoch, the SETI Institute’s director of Interstellar Message Composition, is working with scientists, artists, linguists, composers, and others to imagine how to speak for our planet. Here’s a Web cast in which Vakoch describes his work. Scroll to “Talking with ET.”

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Titan’s weather and amino acids in comets

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 GJ 213?
g Abodes - New evidence suggests that the parched, dry deserts of Saturn's moon, Titan, can support large-scale storms. Significant cloud formation has been witnessed over Titan's tropical zone near the moon's equator. See article.
g Life - NASA says it has identified an amino acid, one of the key building blocks of Earth-style life, in material recovered from a comet far out in space. They say this supports the idea that life may be commonly found throughout the universe, and that they have eliminated the chance that the cometary sample has been contaminated by Earthly life. See article.
g Message - Whenever the director of SETI research presents a public lecture, she can almost guarantee that “What If everybody is listening and nobody is transmitting?” will be one of the questions the audience asks. See article.
g Aftermath - The discovery of life elsewhere in the Solar System would 'profoundly change our understanding of where we came from and our place in the cosmos', astrobiologist Lewis Dartnell says. See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Backwards-orbiting exoplanet and texting ETI

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 - Scientists have discovered a new planet that orbits its host star backwards. The finding casts new light on how planetary systems form and evolve. See article.
g Intelligence - The race to produce smaller and smaller microchips for everything from automobile systems to mobile communications devices has led IBM to turn to one of the very building blocks of life for help with the process — DNA molecules. See article.
g Message - Australians will have the opportunity to send text-like messages to potential intelligent life beyond Earth thanks to an initiative to be launched today to mark National Science Week. See article.
g Cosmicus - On a remote arctic island, scientists are assembling a rover to test technologies that will one day be used to search for life on Mars. The 2009 AMASE expedition to Norway's Svalbard island is now underway. See article.
g Aftermath - Looking for some interesting reading on “first contact”? Try the science fiction anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff. The book came out in 1997. Here’s a review (though it’s less than flattering).

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Monday, August 17, 2009

When worlds collide and return to Moon by 2020 criticized

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 - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has found evidence of a collision between two burgeoning planets around a young star. The two objects, one as big as our moon and the other as big as Mercury, could provide information about how collisions affect the development of planets in young solar systems. See article.
g Message - There’s a nice summary of various astrobiological authors on the Fermi Paradox, or the question of why, if there supposedly are so many aliens, we haven’t met any of them yet, at this site.
g Cosmicus - The U.S. plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020 will not happen without a big boost in NASA's budget, leaving only the International Space Station as a viable target for the country's human space program, according to a presidential review panel. See article.
g Aftermath - Some of the best discussion of the consequences of alien contact occurs in science fiction. Here’s a novel that ranks among the most important in that dialogue: Arthur C. Clark’s “Songs of a Distant Earth.” Look for it at your library or local used book store.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Detecting atmospheric makeup on exoworlds and what it’s like to intern at SETI

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 - A team of scientists at New Mexico Tech is beginning a project to detect atmospheric makeup on planets outside the solar system, ranging in distance from 10 to 100 light-years out in space. See article.
g Message - How should we communicate with other lifeforms if we make contact? See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “The same people who think the space program is a waste of money won’t leave their houses in the morning until they check the satellite weather channel.” – Dave Marinaccio
g Learning - A California university student recounts what it’s like to intern at SETI. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s a hidden gem about alien contact: the science fiction story “Contact, Incorporated,” about a private company that Earth’s government hires to make first contact with extraterrestrials. It’s from 1950 and appears in the seminal classic, “The Classic Book of Science Fiction,” edited by Groff Conklin (your library ought to have this volume). Despite being more than a half-century old, it remains an intriguing examination of how to communicate with aliens.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Online astrobiology courses and Mars' environmental history

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 - The Mars Rover Opportunity has discovered a metallic meteorite on the surface of Mars that is providing important information about Mars' environmental history. The information could help astrobiologists understand whether or not the planet supported habitable environments in its past. See article.
g Message - Want to get a sense of SETI’s history and varying projects? Jodrell Bank Observatory offers an easy to follow yet informative primer.
g Cosmicus - NASA is putting $50 million of economic stimulus cash from the feds into putting the average traveler into space. Companies eager to develop a commercial space vehicle have 45 days to submit their proposals, and the winner will be announced by the end of September. See article.
g Learning - Science teachers in Montana and beyond can explore the geology of the moon and the exciting new interdisciplinary field of astrobiology through a series of online courses offered by Montana State University this fall. See article.
g Aftermath - Will we ever find a primer for decoding messages from extraterrestrials? Last month, anthropologists who gathered for a major conference in Atlanta heard some news that will be sobering for SETI enthusiasts: it may be much more difficult to understand extraterrestrials than many scientists have thought before. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Friday, August 14, 2009

New study challenges widely held anti-ET argument and Mars science program identity crisis

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 - Intelligent life beyond Earth might not be as dim a hope as many scientists think, according to a new study challenging a widely held anti-ET argument. See article.
g Abodes - Quote of the Day: "… to consider the Earth the only populated world in infinite space is as absurd as to assert that in an entire field sown with millet only one grain will grow." - Metrodorus of Chios
g Message - ET doesn't need to phone home, now he can just send a text message. See article.
g Cosmicus - The keynote speaker on the third day of the twelfth annual Mars Society conference, veteran NASA-Ames planetary scientist and astrobiologist Dr. Chris McKay, revealed yet another challenge facing NASA. The once high-flying Mars science program within the Science Mission Directorate (SMD) suffers from a major identity crisis. Already reeling from a massive cost overrun to the 2011 Curiosity rover, the Mars science program has also lost much of its uniqueness within the astrobiology community. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an interesting book for some astrobiological reading: “After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life” by Albert A. Harrison.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Thursday, August 13, 2009

How star ages affect planetary habitability and searching for alien life in the Arctic

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 - New research shows that stars of varying ages could have profound consequences for the development of emerging life forms. Newly formed stars spin faster than midde-aged stars, generating strong magnetic fields and emitting more intense radiation. This could have a dramatic effect on any life developing is such systems. See article.
g Abodes - Methane on Mars is being produced and destroyed far faster than on Earth, according to analysis of recent data. See article.
g Intelligence - The world's population is forecast to hit 7 billion next year, the vast majority of its growth coming in developing and, in many cases, the poorest nations, a report released Wednesday said. See article.
g Message - A technique used to discover the small rocky world also could be used to detect a transmitter with the power of your local TV station at a distance of a hundred light-years, even if the alien broadcasters weren’t beaming our way. See article.
g Cosmicus - The Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE) 2009 is now underway in Svalbard, Norway. AMASE has established Svalbard as a test bed for life-detection technology that will be used on future NASA and ESA “Search for Life” mission to Mars. See article.
g Imagining - There’s plenty to fret about in this world: the economic downturn, environmental degradation, or snails in the bougainvillea. Reasons for anxiety abound. Well, let me lighten your load by stating that you can strike the fear of alien abduction from your stack. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s a fascinating idea: A group of serious scientists, writers, military leaders and others discussing how to establish a constructive dialogue between humanity and ETI, once contact is made.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Challenging our notions of life and plans to explore Mars

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 GJ 338 B?
g Abodes - NASA scientists are using high-tech 'spider' robots to monitor volcanoes on Earth. The low-cost sensors provide real-time monitoring of one of Earth's most challenging environments. The technology will help scientists studying processes on Earth - and could be used in locations beyond our own planet. See article.
g Life - SETI scientist Jill Tarter challenged the notions of life while speaking recently in Australia. See article.
g Message - A lot of science fiction doesn’t offer a particularly accurate description of SETI. Here’s one piece that does: James Gunn’s novel “The Listeners,” published by Signet in 1972. This offers a good early portrayal of a scientifically reasonable search.
g Cosmicus - NASA and the European Space Agency have recently unveiled their joint plans of exploring Mars between 2015 and 2020. Under the agreement, ESA is to build a trace-gas orbiter, a spacecraft able to detect gas plumes emanating from the Red Planet and to image the surface. The Europeans will also deploy the large ExoMars rover, which is about the size of a Mini Cooper. NASA will deliver the European rover, as well as a robotic explorer of its own, a mid-sized sample-caching rover, Nature News reports. See article.
g Aftermath - According to astronomer Allen Tough, even before a signal is detected, six positive consequences will result from the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence, usually called SETI. (1) Humanity's self-image. SETI has enlarged our view of ourselves and enhanced our sense of meaning. Increasingly, we feel a kinship with the civilizations whose signals we are trying to detect. (2) A fresh perspective. SETI forces us to think about how extraterrestrials might perceive us. This gives us a fresh perspective on our society's values, priorities, laws, and foibles. (3) Questions. SETI is stimulating thought and discussion about several fundamental questions. (4) Education. Some broad-gauge educational programs have already been centered around SETI. (5) Tangible spin-offs. In addition to providing jobs for some people, SETI provides various spin-offs, such as search methods, computer software, data, and international scientific cooperation. (6) Future scenarios. SETI will increasingly stimulate us to think carefully about possible detection scenarios and their consequences, about our reply, and generally about the role of extraterrestrial communication in our long-term future. Such thinking leads, in turn, to fresh perspectives on the SETI enterprise itself. Read the full paper,

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How stars affect planet habitability and deciphering our thoughts on alien life

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 - Just how rare life is in the Universe is one of the key questions in the natural sciences today. By pulling in multidisciplinary expertise from biology, geology, physics and astronomy, astrobiologists are addressing different facets of this very profound question, and notably how the conditions around different types of stars in an early stage of development might help or hinder the emergence of life in a solar system. Several scientists at the forefront of this research have just concluded IAU Symposium 264 on "Solar and Stellar Variability - impact on Earth and Planets". See article.
g Abodes - The surface of Saturn's moon Titan has many features that appear similar to Earth, such as lakes, weather and mountains. Scientists even wonder if Titan could harbor a prebiotic chemistry that is similar to the early Earth when life first arose. See article.
g Life - Some critical steps towards finding life on Mars may have already been taken in the Tableland Mountains of western Newfoundland. See article.
g Cosmicus - Richard B. Hoover, Astrobiology Group Leader at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is the 2009 recipient of the Gold Medal of SPIE, the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing article: How SETI is using the social sciences to decipher our thoughts on alien life. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Monday, August 10, 2009

Methane on Mars and a sign of alien intelligence

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 LHS 3003?
g Abodes - Mars is, indeed, an active planet in our solar system, as the first definitive detection of methane gas has been released into the red planet’s atmosphere. See article.
g Life - Using fossil specimens and new 3D models, researchers have identified early relatives of spiders that lived around 300 million years ago. The models allow scientists to see how the spiders where physically adapted to survive on ancient Earth. See article.
g Message - What would be a sign of alien intelligence? Forget mathematics — try a simple, pure-tone radio signal. See article.
g Cosmicus - Even now, 40 years later, our "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" still captures the attention and imagination of people worldwide. See article.
g Aftermath - There’s a neat transcription of a video conference interview with Dr. Frank Drake (whose famous equation this site is organized after), conducted by the class members of Penn State’s "Space Colonization” class. Drake touches on a variety of SETI topics, including the philosophical implication of extraterrestrial contact. Note: The interview took place in January 2001.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Evolution in small bursts and adjustments in the way we view ourselves after radio contact with ETI

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 GJ 1128?
g Abodes - “Geoengineering” refers to human-made changes to the Earth's land, seas or atmosphere that are intended to help slow climate change. However, some scientists are worried that geoengineering techniques may cause more harm than good. See article.
g Life - A new study shows that new species of life on Earth emerge just as often as they die out, and that most evolution occurs in small bursts. The research has implications in understanding the history of life on our planet and the evolutionary processes that will shape the biosphere's future on Earth. See article.
g Cosmicus - On Earth, we use robotic airplanes to explore and collect data in places that are difficult to access. NASA wants to do something similar on Mars. How do Earth and Mars differ? What are some of the challenges to designing an airplane for flight on Mars? See video.
g Learning - How is the search for life elsewhere reflected culturally in symbols that we recognize daily? One signpost invented to characterize the 'state of the internet' is the occasional change in the logo of the world's most popular search engine. How that doodle has come to recognize astrobiology seems to violate conventional wisdom on what is meant by tinkering with one's cherished brand recognition. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Aftermath - If some day we detect a radio signal from a distant civilization, we’ll have to make some adjustments in the way we view ourselves. After millennia of knowing of no other intelligence in the universe than humankind, we could face a considerable challenge to our terrestrial egotism. In the process, will we simply gain a little healthy humility about our place in the universe? Or would it be downright humiliating to compare our own meager accomplishments with those of more advanced extraterrestrials? See article. Note: This article is from 2000.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A philosophical inquiry into SETI and extremophiles

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 GJ 784?
g Abodes - Quote of the Day: "In some worlds there is no Sun and Moon while in others they are larger than in our world and in others more numerous. In some parts there are more worlds, in others fewer; in some parts they are arising, in others failing. There are some worlds devoid of living creatures or plants or any moisture." – Democritus
g Cosmicus - Book alert: “The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: A Philosophical Inquiry” by David Lamb (Routledge) critically evaluates claims concerning the status of SETI as a genuine scientific research program and examines the attempts to establish contact with other intelligent life forms in the past thirty years. Are we alone in the universe? Is the search for extraterrestrial intelligence a waste of resources or a genuine contribution to scientific research? And how should we communicate with other lifeforms if we make contact?
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site for science lovers: “Extremophiles: Can We Live without Them?” Just 50 years ago tiny microorganisms were found living in environments that would kill all other microorganisms. The site provides an introduction to extremophiles and their unique qualities.
g Aftermath - Visitors from other worlds – should any appear – would be enormously ahead of us from a technological viewpoint. The same is true for any aliens we might tune in with our SETI experiments. See article. Note: This article is from 2000.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Friday, August 07, 2009

Asteroid and comet impacts in mass extinctions on Earth and protocols should we detect an alien signal

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 system GJ 338 AB?
g Abodes - Scientists have long debated the role of asteroid and comet impacts in mass extinctions on Earth. New research may indicate that it is highly unlikely that comets caused any mass extinctions. The findings could have implications in determining the likelihood of globally-damaging impacts in our planet's future. See article.
g Message - The first presentation from the recently completed European Exopolitics Summit is now available for free online viewing. The one hour video presentation covers ten categories of evidence used in ‘exopolitics’, a new field that involves public policy analysis of evidence concerning extraterrestrial life and technology. See article.
g Imagining - Here’s the indispensable book on science fiction aliens: “Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials: Great Aliens from Science Fiction Literature.” Having been out a few years now, it may not be on your local bookstore’s shelves. For a peek inside the book (and ordering information), see article.
g Aftermath - Scientists such as the SETI Institute’s John Billingham and Jill Tarter have taken the lead in planning for the day we might receive a signal from life beyond Earth. Working with diplomats and space lawyers, they have helped develop protocols that guide the activities of SETI scientists who think they may have detected extraterrestrial intelligence. See article. Note: This story is from 2001.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Planets where we might find alien life and decoding an ETI message

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 system GJ 2130 AB?
g Abodes - At the most recent NASA Astrobiology Science Conference, a panel of scientists discussed different types of planets where we might find alien life. See article.
g Message - Picture Jodie Foster, her eyes closed and a mildly bored look on her face. She’s wearing earphones and listening to the dull roar of the cosmos. Now imagine Jodie 20 seconds later, when she hears something sounding like an unpleasant accident in the Boston Pops’ percussion section. Jodie knows she’s scored big: The aliens are on the air. Still, how can she be sure she’s picked up intelligence, and not just the cosmic gurgle of a completely natural object? How can she know she’s not merely harkening to the ticking beat of a pulsar, the whoosh of a quasar, or perhaps the lasing bray of a molecular gas cloud? See article.
g Aftermath - How would we go about deciphering a message sent by extraterrestrials? Two anthropologists suggest that we might gain clues to decoding more complex extraterrestrial messages by examining past attempts to decode languages right here on Earth. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

More hints of life on Enceladus and what we should do if we receive an undecipherable alien message

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 GJ 3454?
g Abodes - Plumes spewing from a tiny moon of Saturn – a moon roughly the width of Arizona – are filled with molecules that suggest that the moon, Enceladus, is likely another place in the solar system to look for life, Cassini scientist Jonathan Lunine of The University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory said. See article.
g Cosmicus - Astronomer Royal, Sir Martin Rees describes how for the first time humans as a species may start to change in observable ways within single lifetimes and under some lose control of our own influence. If this future plays out, the future itself becomes more difficult to forecast. See article.
g Aftermath - Let’s presume we have detected an extraterrestrial intelligence. We cannot tell for sure if the message was intended for us, or what it means. What should we do? Click here for some speculations.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

When our sun becomes a red giant and nickel’s role in life’s origin

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 - Roughly 5 billion years from now, the Sun will begin to swell as a red giant. But life on Earth will feel the effects of an aging Sun long before then. What can we do to survive? See article.
g Abodes - Nickel, an important trace nutrient for the single cell organisms that produce methane, may be a useful isotopic marker to pinpoint the past origins of these methanogenic microbes. See article.
g Cosmicus - Comments are being solicited from members of the astrobiology community on the following paper(s) that will be submitted to the 2009-2011 Planetary Science Decadal Survey. Papers will be revised based on community feedback. Additonal papers will be posted as they become available. See article.
g Aftermath - At the 2004 Astrobiology Science Conference, Vatican astronomer Dr. Guy Consolmagno discussed his research as curator of one of the world's largest meteorite collections – and how first contact with ETI would affect the world’s religions.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Monday, August 03, 2009

Covering Mars in water and what role extraterrestrials might play in humanity’s future

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 system Ross 882 AB?
g Abodes - New measurements of Mars' south polar region indicate extensive frozen water. The polar region contains enough frozen water to cover the whole planet in a liquid layer approximately 36 feet deep. A joint NASA-Italian Space Agency instrument on the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft provided these data. See article. Note: This article is from 2007.
g Life - In its simplest and shortest definition, astrobiology may be summed up as, “The study of life in the universe.” There's just one problem when it comes to studying life in the universe. So far, we're it. See article.
g Intelligence - Science fiction writer Isaac Asimov penned the 'Three Laws of Responsible Robotics", and helped form the way that humans think about artificial intelligence. Now, researchers have proposed a new set of laws and foresee what they believe is "a safer and more realistic" future for robotics. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA is introducing a new web site that provides information on near-Earth objects, such as asteroids and comets. Impact events have played an important role in shaping the habitability of Earth, and future impacts could have a profound effect on our planet's biosphere. See article.
g Learning - Weary of catching planes, burning up fossil fuels, and spending lots of time and money to attend meetings? Take heart! Virtual worlds are shaping up as possible venues for online meetings - and astrobiology graduate students are leading the way in exploring their potential. See article.
g Aftermath - What role will extraterrestrials play in humanity’s future? Here’s a paper by University of Toronto Professor Allen Tough. Though written more than 20 years ago, the paper contains plenty of useful ideas that are fresh (and ignored) today, especially those about extraterrestrial behavior and help.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Comets ideal for life to form and ‘Societal Implications of Astrobiology’

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 system Gliese 570 ABCD?
g Abodes - The watery environment of early comets, together with the vast quantity of organics already discovered in comets, would have provided ideal conditions for primitive bacteria to grow and multiply. See article.
g Life - Hundreds of astronomers recently learned that life in outer space is likely to lack green eyes and be far more prosaic, tiny and, quite possibly, completely unlike life as we know it. This blunt appraisal came from the University of Washington's Center for Astrobiology and Early Evolution, one of the first programs in the country to give an advanced degree in astrobiology. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Cosmicus - New laser propulsion experiments are throwing light on how to build future hypersonic aircraft and beam spacecraft into Earth orbit. See article.
g Learning - Quote of the Day: “It is the fate of most voyagers, no sooner to discover what is most interesting in any locality, than they are hurried from it.” – Charles Darwin, “The Voyage of the Beagle”
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing read: the final report of the “Workshop on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology”. Note: The workshop was held in 1999.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Extraterrestrial Contact Act and commercial delivery of space cargo

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 system GJ 752 AB?
g Abodes - Space shuttle plumes point the finger at a comet as the culprit behind a 1908 Siberian space impact. See article.
g Life - Scientists have long believed that animal evolution began in the ocean and that animals did not move to land until much later. New research may change this theory. Rock samples discovered in China could indicate that the first animal fossils known were actually preserved at the bottom of lakes - not oceans. See article.
g Intelligence - Is SETI—the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence—a religion? See article.
g Cosmicus - The U.S. government should leave the business of launching cargo and people into Earth orbit to private commercial space transporters, members of a presidential panel said on Wednesday. See article.
g Learning - Theorizing and model building are one thing; it is another to go out and get data that will support science and the acquisition of new knowledge. For this purpose, NASA has instituted its Astrobiology Program to study the origin, evolution, distribution, and destiny of life in the universe. Existing programs and new endeavors will be brought together in a multidisciplinary fashion to tackle the questions surrounding life's place in the organization of the universe. In so doing, NASA has adopted six canonical questions to use as guideposts as its programs are developed. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Aftermath - What if, one day, Earth was contacted by one of these hypothetical civilizations? How, as a planet, would we respond to their offer to interact? What if they asked, “Do you have a method in place, or even a policy that outlines how Earth will proceed now that contact has happened?” One organization believes that “The Extraterrestrial Contact Act” is the answer.

Get your SF book manuscript edited


Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future