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Is Anybody out There?

Detection devices are in the works for rooting out extraterrestrial life

By
2:23pm, January 17, 2006

In the mid-1960s, the United States Army Corps of Engineers carved a giant cave deep into permafrost in an Alaskan hillside so that scientists could do experiments inside ground that had been frozen for millennia. Entering the 110- meter Cold Region Research and Engineering Laboratory Permafrost Tunnel, as the facility is now known, is like "stepping right back into the Pleistocene," says astrobiologist Richard Hoover. Frozen, long-dead tree roots and grasses dangle from the ceiling, and the bones of an extinct species of buffalo poke out of the walls.

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