Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How microbes did away with ocean deserts and ETI eavesdropping on our broadcasts

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 - Want to make a planet that can sustain carbon-based life? Don’t park it in orbit around a sun-like star. See article. This article is from 2009.
g Abodes - Could planets made of diamond or iron exist? While hundreds of exoplanets have already been discovered, it could just be a matter of time before we find some truly bizarre ones. See article. This article is from 2009.
g Life - More than two and a half billion years ago, Earth differed greatly from our modern environment, specifically in respect to the composition of gases in the atmosphere and the nature of the life forms inhabiting its surface. While today's atmosphere consists of about 21 percent oxygen, the ancient atmosphere contained almost no oxygen. Life was limited to unicellular organisms. The complex eukaryotic life we are familiar with – animals, including humans – was not possible in an environment devoid of oxygen. See article.
g Message - If the best of our SETI setups were suddenly transported lock, stock, and spectrum analyzer to some star system a few tens of light-years away and turned our way by snoopy aliens, would it be sensitive enough to detect any of our terrestrial transmissions? Could it successfully eavesdrop on our television, radio, radar, or cell phones? See article. This article is from 2008.
g Cosmicus - Book alert: A new book from author Mary Roach is always a welcome sight, even more so when it delves into the human side of spaceflight. In Packing for Mars, Roach explores what should be familiar ground to “spaceniks” and comes up with all kinds of fresh, surprising material, delivered with her trademark wit. See review.
g Learning - Here’s a neat new set of classroom activities, courtesy of NASA: “Microbial Life”. It’s a freely accessible digital library dedicated to the diversity, ecology, and evolution of the microbial world. Engage students with hands-on activities and other curriculum-based resources that cover topics such as astrobiology, bioinformatics, extremophiles, and the microbes of marine environments.
g Aftermath - Within the scientific community, the question is no longer whether extraterrestrial life exists, but if ET is smart enough to do long division — and the United States and other world governments already have detailed secret plans for first contact. My apologies in advanced for Popular Mechanic’s lurid title, but the reporting is sound. See article. This article is from 2004.

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