Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Baby galaxies, Evolutionary Ignorance Files and the Old Ones

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars – NASA scientists have discovered dozens of baby galaxies, bringing astronomers a little closer to one of the field’s Holy Grails: A complete understanding of how galaxies, including our own Milky Way, formed. See article.
g Life – A lesson from the past: Researchers investigating life’s recovery from the second largest extinction in Earth's history at the end of the Ordovician 443 million years ago see some parallels to today's extinction crisis. See article.
g Intelligence – Subtle wobbles in Earth's cosmic motions over thousands and millions of years may have influenced the long-term evolution of human beings and their ancestors. See article.
g Message – The venerable Planetary Society hopes to take the search for extraterrestrial life to the stars with space-based platforms. See article.
g Cosmicus – Is NASA finally moving toward a new vision of space exploration? See article.
g Learning – From the Evolutionary Ignorance Files: See Tuesday’s letter in the Baleridge (Ga.) Post-Searchlight. I urge any readers in the Post-Searchlight’s circulation area to correct the letter writers’ false statements. You can reach the editor by clicking on “Voice Your Opinion” at the top of the letter.
g Imagining – Another early “Star Trek” alien is the Exo III android makers. We really don’t know what the android creators (aka “the Old Ones”) looked like, but we can presume by the way human duplicates were created with the android-making machine that they appear like Ruk (click here and then on “Ruk is shot by phaser”). Their height indicates that the planet’s gravity is slightly lighter than Earth’s, and there isn’t a discernable difference in the way humans step on this world. Possibly the savanna grass was taller than in our Africa (their hominid shape indicates a primate-oriented evolution). The whitish pallor probably is due to the lack of sunlight (though not the cold, as that also would make their bodies more compact); the aliens did go underground when a global ice age gripped their world. One interesting question is if they possessed the ability to build androids, why didn’t they just leave their planet when its habitability was lowered? Perhaps some religious or cultural belief prevented them from considering or pursuing space travel; possibly they developed the android-making machine when residing underground. While the show’s creators did a good job of making the Old Ones evolutionarily sound given the world’s climate of the past several eons, the aliens fall short on the Earth vertebrate factor: It’s highly unlikely that the exact facial arrangements as those of Earth’s vertebrates when first leaving the water for land would be so exactly duplicated.

g Aftermath – Here’s an intriguing short story for you to look up: Frederick Pohl’s “The Day after the Day the Martians Came.” It examines racial prejudice and raises an interesting point about how we might react to one another following alien contact. Pohl’s story is anthologized in the classic “Dangerous Visions,” edited by Harlan Ellison.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

No comments: