News from NASA


Continuing our new series of academic travelogues from various corners of the globe, Martin Griffiths reports on our recent visit to the biennial meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) at the University of Colorado, Boulder between the 10 – 14 April:

The NAI conference dealt with typical themes that we at CASE teach in our degree awards. There was much debate focussing on extra solar planets , and on the investigation into the origin of life. The conference was treated to several papers highlighting conditions on the early earth inferred by geologists, physicists and atmospheric scientists as a model for other planetary systems. Conference hightlights included the discovery of some of the worlds oldest rocks (zircons from the Pilbara region of Australia at 4.4 billion years old), models of the RNA world and chemical limitations on the molecules of life. The forthcoming space probes DARWIN and the Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), which hope to find Earth-like planets in the solar neighbourhood, were also reported.

For our own contribution, the work of CASE at the University of Glamorgan was highlighted as an example of excellence in public outreach for their delivery of an astrobiology module (Alien Worlds) to the local community. In addition, CASE’s use of the communication roadmap designed by the NAI Science Communication group, upon which Mark and I sit, in our new degree awards Astrobiology and the MSc in Communicating Science attracted special commendation from the group, who look forward with interest to our development and implementation of these awards next academic year.



    April 22, 2005

    A recent study has higlighted the problem of “Informania”:

    Workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer a fall in IQ more than twice that found in marijuana smokers, new research has claimed.

    What implications could this have for highly technologically advanced aliens?

    Prof Mark Brake

    April 22, 2005

    One can only speculate that blogs exacerbate the problem even further!

    Indeed, more about aliens on Monday . . .

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