Thursday, April 26, 2007

Signs of Life, Home and Away

I got to work early this morning and had time to take a good walk. I'm lucky that this office park borders a protected land area with extensive jogging and nature trails - very cool. I can walk just a few minutes and not even hear any cars. Not that I would since I always walk with my iPod, but it was great to see so many signs of life emerging in the spring woods, while hearing a frantic Indian tabla piece, followed by John Lennon singing "I'm so tired," followed by Joni Mitchell's sweet dulcimer and voice on "A Case of You" (with James Taylor's distinctive acoustic guitar fills ringing in my left ear). Technology, music, and nature merge. Nice. Sublime, almost.

And much farther afield, the news is full of possible signs of life - a still somewhat massive (5 times Earth mass, the smallest exoplanet yet found) but seemingly Earth-like planet orbiting within the "habitable zone" of a red dwarf star some 20 light years away. No actual signs of life yet, but calculations suggest a temperature range where water is liquid, a good start. And the cover of the new Scientific American declares "Hazy hints of Alien Life: Does methane point to bacteria on Mars and Titan?" Maybe! The article is not yet on-line, but a technical article on the Mars methane by author Sushil Atreya is here (1 MB PDF).

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