Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nasty-smelling microbial slime and the various searches for 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 - Cosmic explosions thousands of light-years away could shut down photosynthesis in the ocean at depths of up to 260 feet, a new study suggests. The calculations add to a growing body of research linking these great blasts, called gamma-ray bursts, with biological damage and even mass extinctions on Earth. See article.
g Abodes - For the first time, astronomers have discovered a planet far, far away that might be similar to Earth. This distant world, which pirouettes around a dim bulb of a star with the unglamorous name Gliese 581, may possibly sport a landscape that would be vaguely familiar to us – a panorama of liquid oceans and drifting continents. If so, there’s the chance that it’s a home to life – perhaps even advanced life. See article. This article is from 2007.
g Life - Astrobiology Magazine’s field research editor Henry Bortman spent a week alongside members of the Pavilion Lake Research Project in British Columbia, Canada. In Bortman’s sixth and final report, he describes a day trip to collect nasty-smelling microbial slime at nearby lakes. 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 - In theory, threats from space may be detected far in advance of their arrival, giving plenty of time to deflect them or at least prepare for the aftermath. But that’s in theory. “What we may actually get,” says psychologist Albert Harrison, “is an obsessive focus on a very constricted range of options, a refusal to consider or integrate new data, defensiveness that prevents decision makers from appreciating threats and developing alternatives, and panicky, ineffective last-minute choices.”
See article. This article is from 2006.
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).

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