The following section contains information, links, and other relevant content about the science and locations Alexis and her friends explore in Alexis Ascending. You are welcome to go forth, read on, and explore for yourself, but if you haven't read the book yet, there might be spoilers here.
Silicon-Based Life May Be More Than Just Science Fiction
This article, published on NBC News/Space.com/Astrobiology Magazine, explores silicon-carbon bonding and features an interview with Dr. Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer at CalTech who made a major discovery: organo-silicon compounds can be self-generated in a test tube by mutant enzymes. She won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018 for this discovery.
New Letters Added to the Genetic Alphabet
This article, published in Quanta Magazine/Wired.com explores what scientists are learning about the human genetic code and its potential to expand beyond the four nucleotides G, C, A and T. Dr. Steven Benner, an organic chemist at the Foundation for Applied Molecular Evolution has found that two synthetic nucleotides called P and Z fit seamlessly into existing DNA. Findings were published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
Antarctic Search for Meteorites program (ANSMET)
Learn more about ANSMET at Case Western Reserve University's site. Funded by NASA and the Smithsonian Institution, ANSMET sources meteorites from the Transantarctic Mountains and supplies them to scientists researching the materials that make up asteroids, planets and other bodies of the Milky Way.
Weird Life Found Trapped in Giant Underground Crystals
Watch Dr. Penny Boston's video presentation on National Geographic regarding the life forms she has found in The Cave of Crystals and other locations to understand what life might look like on planet beyond Earth.
Naica's Crystal Cave Captivates Chemists
Read about how giant gypsum crystals reveal their secrets through chemistry in Chemical & Engineering News Magazine, a publication of the American Chemical Society.
New Spacesuit Unveiled for Starliner Astronauts
See NASA's article presenting the Starliner spacesuits that astronauts will wear on the Boeing Starliner capsule's first crewed flight to the International Space Station planned for June 2021.
What Lies at the End of the Period Table?
Watch Chemical & Engineering News' video about the fabled Island of Stability, a theorized region of the periodic table where super heavy elements created by humans are stable enough to potentially have practical applications.
The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet
For a deeper geological dive read Robert M. Hazen's book which "offers a radical new approach to Earth history in this intertwined tale of the planet's living and nonliving spheres." Robert Hazen is Senior Research Scientist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington’s Geophysical Laboratory and the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University.
A Big History of our Planet and Ourselves
Geologist Walter Alvarez's big history book "wields his unique expertise to give us a new appreciation for the incredible occurrences-from the Big Bang to the formation of supercontinents, the dawn of the Bronze Age, and beyond." Walter Álvarez is a professor of geology at the University of California, Berkeley, a Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and a past recipient of the Penrose Medal, the highest award given by the Geological Society of America.
Shaping Our Planet's Future
Looking to the future of Earth and humanity's impact on it, astrobiologist David Grinspoon's book states, " Our challenge now is to awaken to our role as a force of planetary change, and to grow into this task. We must become graceful planetary engineers, conscious shapers of our environment and caretakers of Earth's biosphere."
David Grinspoon is a Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and Adjunct Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Science at the University of Colorado. He is involved with several interplanetary spacecraft missions for NASA, the European Space Agency and the Japanese Space Agency.
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