Saturday, July 02, 2011

Vision among half-billion-year-old animals and alternatives to DNA/RNA

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 - Half-a-billion-year-old fossils show that primitive animals had excellent vision. See article.
g Message - Book alert: In “Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life,“ a fascinating speculative book, author Seth Shostak builds a careful case for the importance of the institute's work, narrowing the range of the galaxy's possibly life-nurturing stars and imagining what forms non-carbon-based life might take. "Although a majority of the American public is convinced that aliens are making house calls to planet Earth," Shostak writes, "most scientists aren't." In prose as lively and dramatic as the science-fiction movies he clearly savors, in the book's final chapters Shostak describes scientific reality: "If it happens, it will begin slowly and without warning in a radio telescope's cramped, cluttered, control room.... under a hundred tons of steel faced off against the pinpoint gleams of the night sky." The book is rich in considered, engaging science, with occasional lapses into excessive speculation about artificial intelligence in space, or into plugs for the institute. Sections on possible alien behavior, on motives for contact and means of contact — all of which make comparisons to movies — are compelling as they reveal as much about us as about anyone who may pop across for a visit. See article.
g Imagining - Are there any alternatives to DNA or RNA, as an “X-Files” episode said there was? See article.

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