Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Habitable planets around the corner and how life might form in methane seas

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: Are there other planets like the Earth in our galaxy, and if so, do any of them harbor life? These are fundamentally important questions, and as James Kasting describes ”How to Find a Habitable Planet”, scientists are on the verge of being able to answer them.
g Life - Saturn's frigid moon Titan is not a candidate for Earth-like life. But its methane seas are forcing some scientists to wonder if life in the universe might develop in other ways, too. See article.
g Message - The Earth is going silent. Digital television signals delivered by cable and satellite are quickly replacing analog broadcasts and reducing the number and power of radio waves leaking into space. For viewers at home, it means more channels and pictures of unsurpassed clarity. But for scientists seeking signs of advanced civilizations beyond the solar system, this sudden radio silence makes the search fuzzier. See article.
g Aftermath - Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence depends as much upon social support for the project as upon appropriate engineering design and upon the actual existence of a nearby extrasolar civilization. The results of a sociological survey of 1,465 American college students provide the first detailed analysis of the social and ideological factors that influence support for CETI, thereby suggesting ways that support might be increased. Linked to the most idealistic goals of the space program, notably interplanetary colonization, enthusiasm for CETI is little affected by attitudes toward technology or militarism. Few sciences or scholarly fields encourage CETI, with the exceptions of anthropology and astronomy. Support is somewhat greater among men than among women, but the sex difference is far less than in attitudes toward space flight in general. Evangelical Protestantism, represented by the "Born Again" movement, strongly discourages support for CETI. Just as exobiology begins with an understanding of terrestrial biology, exosociology on the question of how interstellar contact can be achieved should begin with serious sociological study of factors operating on our own world. See paper.

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