Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Neighboring star may shape planetary formation and how to search for ETI on your own home computer

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 - Astronomers have discovered a clump of planet-forming material around a distant star that looks as if it is being pushed around by another star or planet. The observation is unlike anything seen before and offers a rare look into the early stages of planet formation. See article.
g Life - There are many different theories about where the origin of life occurred. These theories range from life beginning in deep sea thermal vents to bacterial life arriving from other places in the universe, among others. Some of these theories are more credible than others, yet all provide an interesting explanation for life's beginnings. See article.
g Message - Want to help SETI discover alien life? If you haven’t already done so, download the free SETI at Home software. Using Internet-connected computers, the program downloads and analyzes radio telescope data on your desktop when it is idle. The program has been so successful in plowing through data that other scientific researchers, especially in medicine, are adopting it to their fields. Click here for the program.
g Aftermath - Philosophers and former politicians joined an elite group of scientists whose job it is to work out how to respond to signals from extraterrestrial intelligence. See article.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

3D images of Mars’ polar ice layers and what it’s like to listen for aliens signals for a living

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 - Certain stars stream vast amounts of matter into space, creating some of the most beautiful objects in astronomers' telescopes. But while the astronomers can enjoy the beauty, they can't explain it. See article.
g Abodes - NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided 3D images of the north-polar ice layers of Mars. The images provide validation for theoretical models of Mars' climate cycles over the past few million years. With accurate climate models, scientists can help determine whether or not Mars was once a habitable environment for life. See article.
g Message - What’s it like to be a SETI astronomer, listening for alien radio signals? See article. Note: This article is from 1998.
g Cosmicus - During the 2009 AMASE Expedition to Svalbard, scientists were able to carry out 'fun science' activities in addition to their normal research schedule. In this report, team member Juan Diego Rodriguez-Blanco discusses projects like 'iceberg chasing' and developing Raman spectroscopy for Mars. See article.
g Aftermath - Have you ever wanted to put a new word in the dictionary? Now's your chance: say hello to astrobioethics, a branch of ethics involving the implications of life science in space. See article.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Frozen water found at mars’ mid-latitude and ‘Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe’

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 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has revealed frozen water hiding just below the surface of mid-latitude Mars. The spacecraft's observations were obtained from orbit after meteorites excavated fresh craters on the Red Planet. See article.
g Message - It's not easy to look for life somewhere other than Earth. First, scientists searching for life in space have to come up with a working definition of 'extraterrestrial life'. Next, they need to develop a strategy identifying places and methods for their search. To make matters more complicated, all of this has to be done without contaminating the search site with life from Earth or contaminating Earth with potential extraterrestrial life. See article.
g Cosmicus - The spacecraft MESSENGER is just a day or two days away from its third encounter with Mercury. See article.
g Learning - Book alert: A fair amount has been written in recent years about the emerging science of astrobiology: the search for life, intelligent or otherwise, on other worlds in this and other solar systems. Far less, though, has been written about the interplay of astrobiology and the sciences that constitute this multidisciplinary field with broader society—a factor that could become critical should astrobiologists one day discover evidence of life beyond Earth. That, and many other far-reaching issues associated with astrobiology, are tackled by University of Colorado scientist Bruce Jakosky in “Science, Society, and the Search for Life in the Universe”. See review. Note: This review is from 2006.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.” — Buckminster Fuller

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Searching for water at Moon’s South Pole and preparing for 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 - A team of scientists has determined that massive scale projects in the Sahara Desert and the Australian Outback are indeed daunting, but within our reach. See article.
g Cosmicus - The European Space Agency's SMART-1 team has released an image of the future impact site of NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS). LCROSS will search for water ice on the Moon by making two impacts into a crater named Cabeus A at the lunar South Pole. The impacts are scheduled for 11:30 am UT on 9 October 2009. See article.
g Aftermath - A detection of extraterrestrial intelligence will profoundly affect all inhabitants of our planet. The scientific community has realized that the key to ensure a beneficial and rewarding encounter is education and preparation, and these two characteristics apply to many facets of a detection. See article.

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Quantifying a habitat's potential for hosting life and Moon covered in water

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 - Researchers from the Open University are laying the groundwork for a new equation that could mathematically quantify a habitat's potential for hosting life, in a similar way to how the Drake equation estimates the number of intelligent extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way. See article.
g Cosmicus - Using a NASA instrument housed on the Indian Chandrayyan-1 satellite, scientists have solved an Apollo-era mystery about water on the moon. The discovery could have profound implications for future human explorers on our nearest celestial neighbor. See article.
g Aftermath - One of our natural tendencies when we make contact with strangers is to try to impress them. Sloppy dressers might polish their shoes for a job interview, hopeful suitors will wash their cars for a first date and prospective children-in-law will be on their best behavior in the presence of the parents of their intended. Wouldn’t we want to do the same in our first contact with ET? Lewis Thomas, in his book “Lives of a Cell,” suggests that if we want to impress an alien civilization, we should send "Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again." See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Solvents that could support life and the Moon as a service station

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 - The Andromeda galaxy, the closest neighbor to our own Milky Way, has been growing by scooping up stars from smaller surrounding galaxies, a Canadian-led team of astronomers has found. See article.
g Abodes - NASA scientists say they are developing a method of screening molecules to predict how certain materials will contribute to global warming. See article.
g Life - Researchers from Austria who have started a systematic study of solvents other than water that might be able to support life outside our planet. See article.
g Message - Book alert: Scour your used book store shelves for “Life Beyond Earth”, by Timothy Ferris. Rock-solid science writer Ferris has covered this ground before. In the two-hour PBS documentary that he wrote and narrated - which shares the title, text, and many of the images of this generously illustrated book - Ferris tackles two age-old questions about the potentially universal nature of life: Are we alone, and, if not, is anybody listening?
g Cosmicus - The Moon could become a “service station in the sky” where ships resupply on their way to deep space after scientists discover the planet is covered in water and rocket fuel. See article.
g Aftermath - We humans are familiar with the back-and-forth of face-to-face contact — something we likely will not have in an interstellar conversation. The timescale of a human life may well not be enough for a meaningful dialogue with another species. Interstellar dialogue may make sense only across generations. See article.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Super Earth orbits distant star and nearest communicating ETI may be 200 light years away

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 - The second of three images of ESO's GigaGalaxy Zoom project has just been released. It is a new and wonderful 340-million-pixel vista of the central parts of our home galaxy as seen from ESO's Paranal Observatory with an amateur telescope. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists have confirmed the existence of a solid, rocky planet orbiting a distant star. The research also revealed a second Super Earth in the same solar system. Studies like these bring us closer to the discovery of habitable exoplanets similar to Earth. See article.
g Life - By studying a chemical mixture thought to be present in the Earth's early oceans, scientists have discovered that amino acids can be 'cooked' into many other important building blocks of life when they are embedded in salt crusts. The finding could have important implications in our understanding of life's origins. See article.
g Message - How far away is the nearest civilization capable of communicating with a radio telescope? If the galaxies are distributed randomly, the nearest one should be 200 light years away. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing short story for you to look up: Frederick Pohl’s “The Day after the Day the Martians Came.” It examines racial prejudice and raises an interesting point about how we might react to one another following alien contact. Pohl’s story is anthologized in the classic “Dangerous Visions,” edited by Harlan Ellison.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Moons the size of Earth and answers to some Drake Equation variables

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 588?
g Abodes - Giant gas planets that orbit close to their parent star could harbour moons the size of Earth, say researchers, but the possibility of finding life on them would be remote. See article.
g Life - NASA scientists have discovered glycine, a fundamental building block of life, in samples of comet Wild 2 returned by NASA's Stardust spacecraft. See article.
g Message - Book alert: In “Is Anyone Out There?”, by Frank Drake, Dava Sobel, University of California astronomy and astrophysics professor Drake, aided by science journalist Sobel, responds to the title's classic question with an account of his career-long quest to gamer hard scientific data that might point to some answers. One of America's pioneer radio astronomers, Drake provides firsthand descriptions of breakthrough moments in the past 30 years of astrophysics - no encounters of any kind, just straightforward astrophysics with inconclusive experimental results. Drake's medium is science, his theory technical and his slightly anthropocentric conclusions more modest than those of the average UFO abductee.
g Aftermath - Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Arctic astrobiology expedition ends and distinguishing ETI’s signal from stellar noise

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 - Black holes - those massive, invisible objects that suck in everything around them - may have appeared before the galaxies that host them. See article.
g Abodes - Astronomers who were dazzled by the 2007 explosion of a comet into the largest object in the solar system have discovered it gave birth to a bunch of baby comets. See article.
g Life - Enormous prehistoric armoured mammals called glyptodonts swung their spiked tails like baseball bats, according to a new study. See article.
g Message - Our most efficient attempts to broadcast our planet's existence to another civilization would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars. By analogy, more advanced worlds would likely do the same, making our chances of listening in hard to distinguish from hearing stellar noise. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - Adrienne Kish reports from the field during the closing days of the AMASE 2009 Expedition to Norway's Svalbard island in the Arctic. As the mission completed, the research team simulated a week in the life of a Mars rover science team in preparation for a future Mars sample return mission. See article.
g Aftermath - If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose and learn about the thinking behind them.


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Monday, September 21, 2009

Rocky planet resembling Earth found and aliens detecting our TV/radio signals

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 humanity has a dream: to find extraterrestrial life. But that is hard as first of all we have to find Earth-like planets what are suitable for life and which could house living creatures. Astronomers are having a tough job in finding these planets, but lately they found a bunch of rocky planets that are positioned in the Goldilocks zone. In the constellation Monoceros astronomers found a rocky planet with a structure resembling the Earth structure, however, there are a few downsides of this planet. See article.
g Life - Remains of a dinosaur, nicknamed the 'Giraffe of the Mesozoic' due to its long neck and forelimbs, have been discovered in China for the first time. See article.
g Message - The Earth is at the center of an expanding bubble of electromagnetic radiation. The bubble, expanding at the speed of light, contains all of the man-made electromagnetic transmissions of the earth - radio, TV, radar, and so on. In theory, an alien civilization could receive these signals, and form their opinion about the earth by analyzing them. To most people, it is quite discouraging to think that some alien civilization would form their opinion of Earth based upon our situation comedies. Upon a slightly deeper analysis, the conventional wisdom says, “Aliens might detect our TV signals, but at least they can't form their opinion of our civilization from our TV transmissions. Decoding the transmission is so much harder than detecting it that we don't need to worry about this.” But an editor of the book “SETI 2020” argues that this view considerably underestimates the technologies that aliens might employ. By looking at likely technical improvements - better receivers and feeds, bigger antenna, signal processing, and perhaps stellar focusing, any civilization that can detect our radiations might well be able to decode it as well. Thus aliens can form their impression of Earth from “I Love Lucy.” See article.
g Learning - Here are video interviews of Carl Sagan (from 1995-96) by journalist Charlie Rose.
g Aftermath - Alien encounters and science fiction permeate pop culture, but what would it really mean if scientists found life beyond Earth? If even a single-celled organism on another planet was discovered, for many, this would be the last thread of evidence proving that life is simply chemistry. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

The lure of Hollywood aliens and how the press will handle 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 - Book alert: “Extrasolar Planets and Astrobiology”, by Caleb A. Scharf, offers an advanced introduction to the increasingly robust fields of extrasolar planets and astrobiology. See reviews.
g Life - Biological curves were used to date the earliest forms of life. But could the discovery of how to make curved inorganic materials in the laboratory throw our understanding of life on Earth? See article.
g Message - Looking for life elsewhere is a tough task for human or robot. The good news is that the scientific skill and tools to search for, detect and inspect extraterrestrial life are advancing rapidly. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Imagining - Newsweek magazine recently ran a cover story about the search for alien life. In this interview, Newsweek reporter Andrew Romano talks about the lure of Hollywood’s favorite story and real-life aspects of hunting aliens. See article.
g Aftermath - How will the press handle the announcement that we’ve made contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence? See article.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Stars form in different ways and no conflict between Catholicism/ belief in 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 - Astronomers will have to rethink how they measure galaxies, with a new study finding that stars don't all form the same way. See article.
g Abodes - A dark red spot discovered on the dwarf planet Haumea, which orbits beyond Neptune, appears to be rich in minerals and organic compounds. Studying the composition of objects like Haumea can help astrobiologists understand the inventory of compounds in our solar system that may have played a role in life's origins. See article.
g Life - The fearsome family of dinosaurs topped by Tyrannosaurus rex began with a miniature version of the tyrant that was only the size of a human being. See article.
g Message - Tired of the alien-of-the-week as depicted by "Star Trek"? Jar-Jar Binks bugging you? Are you wondering where the real space sentients are, and if they are weirder than we can even imagine? You are not alone – and in all probability, we are not alone either. At least, that’s what the folks at SETI – the Search for Extra- Terrestrial Intelligence – are betting. See article.
g Cosmicus - Beamed Energy Propulsion (BEP) is far more than a dream or idea: It is a powerful enabling technology that will radically transform the future of air and space transportation. It is physics, not imagination. See article.
g Learning - We may think we understand the nature of the universe, but Lawrence M. Krauss reminds us science always has the potential to surprise. See article.
g Aftermath - Father Jose Gabriel Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, said this week there is no opposition between belief in the existence of aliens and at the same time belief in God. See article.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Did something in space affect our molecules’ direction and Cosmic Call

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 - Maybe even more than average citizens, the world's space agencies rely on daily and seasonal reports to better understand weather on Earth and other planets. Space-mission success ties directly to effective anticipation and navigation of inclement surface and atmospheric conditions. See article.
g Life - Much of the biology on Earth involves molecules that are oriented in a left-handed direction. A proposed nano-satellite would carry up some of these bio-molecules to see if something in space might be responsible for this left-handed excess. See article.
g Message - In 2003, an international science team, led by Alexander Zaitsev of the Russian Academy of Sciences and Richard Braastad of Team Encounter, LLC, broadcast scientific and personal messages in “Cosmic Call 2003” to five, sun-like stars. Here’s a brief description of the preparation and implementation of CC-2003. See article.
g Cosmicus - Previous missions to Mars have been searching for signs that Mars once had liquid water, and potentially habitats for life. The next generation of Martian rovers will search for signs of past or present life on Mars more directly. Technologies for such missions are now being tested in the remote arctic. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “There are two possibilities: Maybe we're alone. Maybe we're not. Both are equally frightening" — Isaac Asimov

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Clues to how our solar system formed and conversing with extraterrestrials during 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 - Craters on the two largest objects in the asteroid belt could help identify at what point during the early solar system Jupiter was created. Vesta and Ceres are believed to be two of the oldest objects in the solar system and studying them could shed light on how our solar system has formed over time. See article.
g Intelligence - 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 loose control of our own influence. If this future plays out, the future itself becomes more difficult to forecast. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Cosmicus - NASA has announced that Cabeus A will be the target crater for the LCROSS dual impacts next month. The LCROSS mission will search for water ice in the permanently shadowed lunar crater by sending its spent upper-stage rocket on a collision course with the moon's surface. See article.
g Aftermath - When we first meet extraterrestrials, will we and they be able to converse? An MIT professor argues that we will — provided they are motivated to cooperate — because we'll both think similar ways. See article. Note: This article is from 1985.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

How oxygen gave rise to life and a gold disc intended for extraterrestrial eyes and ears

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 - New research confirms that a rise in atmospheric oxygen drove oxygenation of ancient oceans on Earth, and ultimately led to the evolution of complex animals. The study provides insight into how the Earth came to support the wide diversity of life we see today. See article.
g Life - A lost world populated by fanged frogs, grunting fish and tiny bear-like creatures has been discovered in a remote volcanic crater on the Pacific island of Papua New Guinea. See article.
g Message - A 12-inch gold plated copper disk containing recorded sounds and images representing human cultures and life on Earth — intended for extraterrestrial eyes and ears — is traveling about the galaxy. See article. Note: This article is from 1996.
g Cosmicus - A rover that has been driving across the ocean floor off the California coast is providing researchers with an entirely new view of life in the deep ocean. The Benthic Rover is exploring the unique habitats deep below the Pacific waters and is also helping document the effects of climate change on these fragile environments. See article.
g Learning - Two newspapers in Bangladesh were fooled by a made-up story in the satirical newspaper "The Onion," reporting that astronaut Neil Armstrong acknowledge that he Apollo 11 moon landing was faked. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “If we realize that there is other life at a higher order of multi-cellular organization of even adaptation of environment, I think that would profoundly rock our boat.” — Jim Garvin

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Understanding Titan’s chemistry and the emerging field of geobiology

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 - Life probably shouldn't have formed in our solar system, some researchers say as the Earth and Sun are unlikely hosts. See article.
g Abodes - The latest findings concerning Titan indicate that the Saturnian moon could contain valuable in situ resources for future explorers, including fuels like propane. The discovery of propane could help scientists further understand the chemistry of Titan's atmosphere, and the potential for life's building blocks to form on the distant moon. See article.
g Life - New studies of mixotrophic algae have shown how such organisms could survive the darkened skies that follow a major asteroid impact. Such studies indicate how life manages to survive after a mass extinction event. See article.
g Message - Astronomers estimate there are 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe. That's a 7 followed by 22 zeros. Searching that inconceivably vast expanse for what would be the most sensational, and potentially disruptive discovery in the history of humankind is just another day at the office for Seth Shostak. See article.
g Cosmicus - We're already spending enough to get back to the moon, even if we had to start from scratch. See article.
g Learning - For decades, “geo” and “bio” have been seen as separate disciplines. No longer. In the past few years, USC has become the center of the emerging field of geobiology, involving rock-eating bacteria and intra- and extra-terrestrials. See article.
g Aftermath - In the next two dozen years, the Allen Telescope Array will parse the nearest thousand light-years of space. If there are other occupants of this galactic neighborhood, we could turn up a signal. But then what? Would the discovery be put under wraps, either voluntarily or by government edict? If a signal were found, would you know? See article.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Optical SETI and human migrations

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Intelligence - Analysis of ancient DNA from skeletons suggests that Europe's first farmers were not the descendants of the people who settled the area after the retreat of the ice sheets. Instead, the early farmers probably migrated into major areas of central and eastern Europe about 7,500 years ago, bringing domesticated plants and animals with them, says Barbara Bramanti from Mainz University in Germany and colleagues. See article.
g Message - While advanced civilizations might be tempted to use optical means such as lasers to send information between the stars, there are some good reasons that nearly all the major Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence experiments are looking for radio waves instead. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “… the universe vacant of life ... one asks why the proof is piled so high ... So intolerable is the despair that settles upon us that we instinctively protest against Mr. Wallace’s limitation... A planet may die, but a lifeless universe! — ‘that way madness lies.’” — a review of Alfred Russel Wallace’s book “Man’s Place in the Universe” (1903), which declared man was alone in the universe.”

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Celestial Rosetta stone and modifying 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 - ESA's XMM-Newton orbiting X-ray telescope has uncovered a celestial Rosetta stone: the first close-up of a white dwarf star, circling a companion star, that could explode into a particular kind of supernova in a few million years. These supernovae are used as beacons to measure cosmic distances and ultimately understand the expansion of our universe. See article.
g Intelligence - Robots that can make their own decisions have so far been confined to science fiction movies, but a child-sized figure with big eyes and a white face is trying hard to turn fiction into reality. See article.
g Message - Should we modify the Drake Equation to account for civilizations which actually engage in deliberate interstellar transmission? See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA has taken a major step toward building the next crew exploration vehicle by completing the Orion Project's preliminary design review, or PDR. Orion is being designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station and other destinations. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “… discovering life on another planet might be one of the most fantastic things for humans.” — J. Craig Venter

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Kepler may find exomoons and the Theremin instrument for communicating 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 - Using one of the greatest artificial sources of radiation energy, University of Nevada, Reno researcher and faculty member Roberto Mancini is studying ultra-high temperature and non-equilibrium plasmas to mimic what happens to matter in accretion disks around black holes. See article.
g Abodes - Since the launch of the NASA Kepler Mission earlier this year, astronomers have been keenly awaiting the first detection of an Earth-like planet around another star. Now, in an echo of science fiction movies a team of scientists led by Dr David Kipping of University College London thinks that they may even find habitable exomoons, too. See article.
g Message - Previous radio messages for aliens, Arecibo 1974 and Evpatoria 1999 were the logical ones and represented the binary stream of FM information, which should be arranged into two-dimensional forms to perceive by eye-like sense-organ. The primary one-dimensional message is more understandable by unfamiliar aliens and the music is the most universal expression of intellectual activity by means of one-channel ear-like radio link. Further, the Theremin instrument is the most preferable for interstellar transmission since Theremin produces quasi-sinusoidal narrow-band signals with continuous phase under performance, which are easier for extraction from noise. Given this, one scientist suggests implementing the First Theremin Concert for Aliens from Arecibo or Evpatoria Radar facility. The Theremin virtuoso Lidia Kavina agrees to give such Concert with appropriate classic and cosmic repertoire either in on-line mode at observatory's concert-hall or off-line Concert in audio studio. The Theremin's signal lies at about (0-10) kHz, and it should be shifted by SSB mixer to radar band and transmitted into space toward any star cluster or sun-like star. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “This discovery … will profoundly change the world." — Frank Drake

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Andromeda’s collision and the famous SHGb02+14a 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 - An international team of astronomers, including Queen’s University physicist Larry Widrow, have uncovered evidence of a nearby cosmic encounter. Their study indicates that the Andromeda and Triangulum galaxies, the two galaxies closest to our own, collided about two to three billion years ago. See article.
g Abodes - The large, cloud-enshrouded moon Titan is such a scientific enigma that for the past five years, it has been targeted by NASAs Cassini spacecraft with more than 60 probing flybys. One of its latest findings could be a valuable asset to future generations of space explorers hunting for materials to whip up a Labor Day barbecue. See article.
g Intelligence - Medically, crying is known to be a symptom of physical pain or stress. But now a Tel Aviv University evolutionary biologist looks to empirical evidence showing that tears have emotional benefits and can make interpersonal relationships stronger. See article.
g Message - The Toledo Blade has written an editorial about a recent signal emanating from a point in deep space between the constellations Pisces and Aries, more than 1,000 light years away (the infamous SHGb02+14a signal). It’s a positive sign to see mainstream media treat astrobiology seriously — an indication that the general public also is becoming more accepting. Read the editorial. Note: This editorial is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - Four months after the success of Apollo 11, NASA launched Apollo 12 in November 1969. Almost exactly 40 years later, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has seen the landing site. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “And ahead...? We cannot tell; we are too far out to see the unknown land. It is enough to ride the wave.” — Arthur C. Clark

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A galaxy like ours and what happens if the next signal turns out to be the real thing?

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 - ESO has released a striking new image of a nearby galaxy that many astronomers think closely resembles our own Milky Way. Though the galaxy is seen edge-on, observations of NGC 4945 suggest that this hive of stars is a spiral galaxy much like our own, with swirling, luminous arms and a bar-shaped central region. See article.
g Life - Biologists at the University of California, Riverside report new evidence for evolutionary change recorded in both the fossil record and the genomes (or genetic blueprints) of living organisms, providing fresh support for Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. See article.
g Message - What sort of signal would satisfactorily announce an extraterrestrial intelligence as detected by radio-emission or light reception? For an opinion article on what sort of signal is a SETI hit, see article.
g Aftermath - What happens if the next signal turns out to be the real thing? What happens if the sender wants to talk? Will we know what to say? See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Disappearing sunspots and bridging the gap between humans and extraterrestrials

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 - The sun is in the deepest solar minimum in nearly a century. Some observers are starting to wonder, are sunspots disappearing? Sunspots can have profound effects on the Earth's climate as well as human and satellite missions in orbit. See article.
g Message - Here’s a good overview of the Drake Equation — though the rest of the Web site itself is a bit suspect.
g Cosmicus - Members of the 2009 AMASE Expedition describe their work in the 'scientific playground' of Bockfjorden on the arctic island of Svalbard. The team collected samples of rock and ice that will be examined for signs of life. In doing so, they are testing technologies that will one day be used on Mars. See article.
g Aftermath - As SETI's scientists plan for their first contact with other worlds, who better to consult with than anthropologists, who specialize in encounters with exotic cultures? And thus, over the past several years the SETI Institute has repeatedly brought together anthropologists and scholars from other disciplines, in an attempt to bridge the gap between humans and extraterrestrials. See article.

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Understanding chemical processes in space and is there life anywhere else?

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 - Astronomers have determined how far away from its hot stellar neighbors a star must be if a swirling disk of dust around it is to stand a chance of forming planets. See article. Note: This article is from 2007.
g Life - Astronomers have discovered gaseous napthalene drifting along through space in interstellar clouds. Studying the composition of interstellar clouds will help scientists understand chemical processes in space that formed many of the molecules present on Earth - including those necessary for the origin of life. See article.
g Message - Looking for a club to join? Try The SETI League. The league’s site has a lot of great information for everyone from the beginner to accomplished technogeek.
g Cosmicus - With the Space Shuttle Discovery scheduled to undock from the International Space Station (ISS) on today, skywatchers across much of the United States and southern Canada are in for a real treat on tonight and Wednesday evening. See article
g Learning - We know there's life in the universe. We see it all around us here on Earth. But is there life anywhere else? By studying the extremes that life can take here on Earth, scientists are learning just how hardy and adaptable life can really be. And if you consider other ways that life might function, the options open up considerably. See podcast.
g Aftermath - I offer this Web site entry on exopolitics only as a basis for us to think about how people might react once we know an extraterrestrial civilization exists. Certainly many will give ufology more credence and make fantastical conclusions based upon images in the popular media. Question: How do we counteract this now? Obviously we want people discussing the topic of “exopolitics,” even if it’s in a vacuum. But how do we move beyond silly paranormal notions?

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Monday, September 07, 2009

The frontier of an intelligence biologically wholly unrelated to our own and national priorities for exploring 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 DO 255-470?
g Life - The Arizona Radio Observatory is on the lookout for primitive organic molecules in the cold, dense gas clouds of interstellar space. See article. Note: This article is from 2007.
g Message - If we are to learn about distant life, it must make itself perceptible. As far as we can see, only life that has followed our own evolution to the extent of being able to send some mark of its presence across space can be found. This must mean that intelligence develops naturally out of evolving life, that it can make signals capable of traversing space, and that, for some period of time at least, it wants to make its presence known (or at least does not conceal it!). If these conditions exist anywhere, we might hope to detect creatures far older and more capable than ourselves. Exploration would then cross a new frontier; the frontier of an intelligence biologically wholly unrelated to our own. See article.
g Cosmicus - What should be the nation's goals and priorities for exploring Mars in the 2013 to 2022 timeframe? See article.
g Learning - Ever lain on your back, studying a starry sky, wondering if there's anything else out there? Listen to podcast.
g Aftermath - Book alert: “When SETI succeeds: The impact of high-information contact,” edited by Allen Tough, gives the intriguing proceedings of a seminar on the cultural impact of extraterrestrial contact (held in conjunction with Bioastronomy '99) plus eleven additional in-depth papers. Topics include the practical information and the answers to major questions that we might gain from another civilization, the likely changes in our view of ourselves, the role of the social sciences in SETI, cosmic humanity, the age of ET, cultural aspects of astrobiology, and what next. Published in 2000, the book is available from the Foundation for the Future. See list.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

Space-based platforms for SETI and the odd tang of outer space

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 EQ Pegasi ABCD?
g Abodes - Scientists have found that the 11-year solar cycle, the stratosphere and the tropical Pacific Ocean work in sync to generate periodic weather patterns that affect the globe. The findings could be used to predict future climate patterns on Earth. See article.
g Message - The venerable Planetary Society hopes to take the search for extraterrestrial life to the stars with space-based platforms. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - For rookie astronauts flying aboard the International Space Station, the food is good, the rocket thrusters are loud and there's an odd tang in the air — apparently from outer space. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “Even if no signals are ever found, SETI will always be a source of mental stimulation toward the perception by everyone of their personal and national position in the universe.” – Robert S. Dixon

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

What Mars looks like from an airplane and who might hear the first radio signal from ET

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 - What would you see if you could fly over Mars in a plane and look out the window? See article.
g Message - The SETI Institute predicts that we'll detect an extraterrestrial transmission within 20 years. If that turns out to be true, it'll probably be the folks at UC Berkeley's Hat Creek radio observatory who will have heard the call. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - India has lost contact with the lunar orbiter Chandrayaan-1. The loss came less than a week after the spacecraft teamed up with NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter for an experiment to test for water ice on the Moon. Water ice could prove to be a vital resource for lunar explorers. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “The knowledge that non-human minds, which could be superior in ways we cannot imagine, were out there beyond the Solar System could make us more conscious of our own nature and predicament.” – Edward Ashpole, “The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence”

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Zinc & zap and who should greet 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 - A new model for the origin of life says zinc may have played a vital role. If true, then the Sun’s UV radiation may have provided the energy necessary for life to arise. See article.
g Abodes - The weather and surface conditions of planets outside our Solar System could be detected by constellations of telescopes sent to space, and then used to predict which are most Earthly and likely to harbor life, according to new research. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Message - The Fermi paradox is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of evidence for, or contact with, such civilizations. See article.
g Aftermath - When an alien lands on the White House lawn, who should greet him (her? it?): Someone from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or someone from the Fish and Wildlife Commission? What rights would an extraterrestrial have? See article. Note: This article is from 1977, but the issue has been thought about very little.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Future of our galaxy and ‘The Consequences of Discovery’

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 simulations show that a collision between small, satellite galaxies and our own Milky Way will not tear apart the disk of our home galaxy. Our largest satellite galaxies are the Large and Small Megellanic Clouds, and astronomers once thought a collision with them would lead to disaster. But for now, it looks as though our future in the Milky Way is safe. See article.
g Life - Perhaps they are the superheroes of tomorrow. Living and thriving in the most inhospitable conditions on Earth, tiny bacteria-like microbes known as extremophiles might soon have an oversized effect on our human world. We currently know little about these organisms that once remained hidden to us. But what we have discovered so far is intriguing—and, in fact, perhaps these microscopic creatures will help us save the world. See article.
g Message - If you've ever sent a carefully composed message to someone on a dating site in cyberspace, trying to ignite a spark of interest and elicit a reply, you'll understand what Yvan Dutil and his colleague Stephane Dumas are up against. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing article that is frequently referenced in astrobiology papers: "The Consequences of a Discovery: Different Scenarios", by astronomer Ivan Almar. Note: This article is from 1995.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Greenhouse gasses on Earth Mark I and the psychology of extraterrestrial communication

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 - In the early days of the solar system, our sun would not have been hot enough to keep the Earth from freezing. However, liquid water was present on the early Earth. Now, scientists believe that greenhouse gasses may have played a role in keeping Earth's oceans from freezing over completely. See article.
g Message - Although the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence has yet to detect a signal, the efforts continue because so little of the possible parameter space has been searched so far. See article.
g Aftermath - Almost no serious study seems to have been made of the psychology of extraterrestrial communication - presumably on the basis that xenopsychology, xenoanthropology or xenolinguistics (terms seemingly used only by science fiction enthusiasts and game designers) need some cases to work on before anything useful can be written. Although it might be argued that the theoretical challenges for communication are clear enough to commence such work. See article.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Einstein@Home and interstellar transmissions via energy-markers or matter-markers

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 - Results of the first Einstein@Home search for continuous wave sources in LIGO S5 data have been published in Physical Review D. The project’s objective is to find the first physical evidence of one of Einstein’s greatest predictions — the existence of gravitational waves. It is one of the world's largest public volunteer distributed computing projects, with more than 200,000 people donating time on their computers to search data for signals from unknown pulsars. See article.
g Message - Interstellar transmissions via energy-markers (photons) or matter-markers (probes) appear to be energetically indistinguishable alternatives for advanced technical societies. Since only Type II and Type III civilizations realistically can afford beacons or star probe technology, alternative distinguishability criteria suggest the possible superiority of intelligent artifacts for contact and communication missions among extraterrestrial cultures. A balanced, more cost-effective Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence strategy is needed. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “It would be odd indeed if the human race did not search for other planetary systems after exploring the Solar System. Other stars and their planets are prospective wonders too intriguing for us to neglect.” - Edward Ashpole, “The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence”
g Aftermath - The scientific discussion of the evolution of life in the universe raises some key philosophical and theological issues Will life and intelligence be found throughout the universe, or will it turn out to be exceedingly rare? Will intelligent life be capable of both rationality and moral agency? Will evolutionary biology determine its moral content or will it merely bequeath intelligent life with moral capacity, leaving moral content to be determined independently of biology? If moral agency evolves, will these species inevitably exhibit moral failure, or is our generic human experience of moral failure strictly the result of our particular evolution, leaving us to expect there to be other civilizations that are entirely benign? The discussion of these issues, though largely hypothetical, can offer insight into the theological and cultural implications of the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence as well into a better understanding of the human condition. See article.

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