Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Democratic aliens and stretching out missions to 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 Life - Scientists have discovered that simple peptides can form membranes that may have been essential for life's origin. The contents of all living cells are surrounded by membranes that separate cells from their surrounding environment. The origin of such membranes is thought to be an essential step in the beginnings of life as we know it. See article.
g Message - Stephen Hawking has warned that we might do better to curb our search for extraterrestrial life before something unwanted finds us first. Here, Lewis Darnell considers why the search for extraterrestrials fires the imagination. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA is considering a plan to get around limited budgets set in Washington by stretching out missions to bring back samples from Mars. See article.
g Learning - The 2010 Astrobiology Science Conference was a wild rodeo of ideas, debates, and scientific discovery. Although there was far too much science presented over four days to cover in full, this round-up provides a few highlights See article.
g Imagining - Although its still two years until the next presidential election, were already seeing signs of politicians positioning themselves for the Oval Office. If extraterrestrials someday pick up our radio and television broadcasts, hearing the latest news of political jockeying, will they be flabbergasted by our methods of choosing a leader? Would the idea of one vote per person seem hopelessly quaint to an advanced alien nation? See article.
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

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