Monday, August 02, 2010

Earth-like vs. Earth-sized and expedition to Darwin IV

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 - Recently there was news that washed over astrobiologists like high tide in the Bay of Fundy: the existence of a possibly habitable planet around the nearby star Gliese 581. See article. This article is from 2007.
g Abodes - In just 43 days of observations, NASA's Kepler mission found over 750 candidates for extrasolar planets; 706 of them are potentially from as small as Earth to around the size of Jupiter. Dimitar Sasselov, co-investigator for Kepler, recently spoke of the results at TED Global 2010. However, his talk caused a bit of controversy. See article.
g Cosmicus - With the success of recent movies such as “What the &$@# Do We Know?” and the ongoing -- and continuously surprising - revelations of the unexpected nature of underlying reality that have been unfolding in quantum physics for three-quarters of a century now, it may not be particularly surprising that the quantum nature of the universe may actually now be making in-roads into what has previously been considered classical observational astronomy. See article. This article is from 2004.
g Imagining - Book alert: An abundance of lavish full-color illustrations and detailed black-and-white sketches dominate Wayne Douglas Barlowe's “Expedition: Being and Account in Words and Artwork of the 2358 A.D. Voyage to Darwin IV,” a fictional account of a 21st-century exploratory space flight to the imaginary planet Darwin IV. Sent along as the mission's artist, Barlowe describes his "excursions" to survey Darwin IV and the unusual animals he encountered: creatures like the monopodalians, who pogo-stick across a barren, icy landscape, or the winged but flightless Stripewings that are in "evolutionary flux." Numerous "observed" details, such as the length of a Darwinian day (26.7 hours) and the feeding, hunting and mating behaviors of various creatures, help maintain the illusion of realism and immediacy such a first-person narrative demands. Get a sneak peak.

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