Sunday, August 08, 2010

Maps of exoworlds and what clues evolution provides us for communicating with life beyond Earth

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 - Jonathan Fortney, a planetary scientist and astrobiologists from the Carl Sagan Center may well have something in common with Claudius Ptolemy. They are both pioneers in the world of map making, despite lacking more data than they actually possess. Ptolemy, working a couple of millennia ago, created some of the earliest known maps of planet earth based on rudimentary knowledge of less than one quarter of the globe. Jonathan and his team have modeled a rudimentary temperature map of an alien world, the first of its kind, with an even more limited data set. Still, this new map represents our first real insight into an extra-solar planet, any extra-solar planet, beyond knowing that it exists or doesn’t. See article.
g Life - What exactly is a sign of life? Or more precisely, an unmistakable sign of life? This sounds like a tedious, trivial question, but a quick dip into your high school biology text will show that it’s not. Defining life in a way that’s both complete and exclusive is not only hard, it hasn’t been done. See article. This article is from 2002.
g Intelligence - Unlike the humpbacks in Alaska’s Fredrick Sound, which generally eat krill (which they just guide into their open mouths), the humpbacks in nearby Chatham Strait go after herring, which can swim faster than the humpbacks can. But the humpbacks have a trick — that must certainly qualify for bona fide tool-making. They coordinate with sounds. See article. This article is from 2005.
g Message - When SETI observes a star system, at any particular frequency, for only a few seconds or minutes, can we reasonably expect that during that brief scrutiny the extraterrestrial transmitters are “looking” at us? See article. This article is from 2008.
g Cosmicus - Future manned missions to the moon or Mars could use plants as bio-harvesters to extract valuable elements from the alien soils, researchers say. See article.
g Learning - Frank Drake, the famed astronomer who started looking for signals of intelligent beings in distant space 50 years ago, has inspired generations of starstruck seekers to join the hunt, and many of them will gather in the Bay Area this week to let the public in on what they're up to. See article.
g Aftermath - In our everyday lives, we sometimes emulate computers, though typically without their full precision. When we do a favor for someone, more often than we’d like to admit, we keep an informal tally of who owes us, and how much. According to sociobiologists, who attempt to explain behavior in terms of its value for survival, such calculations might have a biological basis. And as we will see, they may also provide some clues to communicating with life beyond Earth. See article. This article is from 2002.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: