Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Captured moon, Ediacara fossils and Species 8472

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 – Jupiter's moon Amalthea was probably captured: The first ground based infrared spectrum of Amalthea reveals that it must have formed far from its current location. This new finding sheds light on our solar system's turbulent past. See article.
g Abodes – Historic Himalayan ice dams created huge lakes, mammoth floods: Ice dams across the deepest gorge on Earth created some of the highest-elevation lakes in history. New research shows the most recent of these lakes, in Tibet’s Himalaya Mountains, broke through its ice barrier somewhere between 600 and 900 AD, causing massive torrents of water to pour through the Himalayas into India. See
g Life – There’s a fascinating transcript of an Australia Broadcasting Corporation’s interview with those involved in discovering the Ediacara fossils, which are the oldest evidence of animal life on Earth. See
g Intelligence – Finally, some quality television programming: Set your VCRs to the National Geographic cable channel for Wednesday’s episode of “Naked Science,” which will examine the evolution of humanity. The hour-long program starts at 4 p.m. CST.
g Message – There’s a local news update on construction of the Allen Telescope Array in northern California
. It’s basic but gives you a sense of where the project is as of this past weekend.
g Cosmicus – For NASA’s “Year in Review 2004”
. It covers NASA’s vision for space exploration, Cassini-Huygens, the space shuttle, space station and the astronaut class of ’04.
g Learning – A strong, pro-science editorial, “A Sputnik America fails to see”, appears this morning in the san Jose Mercury News
. Bravo to the Mercury News’ editorial board for its foresight.
g Imagining – There’s an intriguing article online about how Species 8472 of “Star Trek: Voyager” fame was created. Read between the lines: Thoughts about our biases and expectations, as shaped by popular media and entertainment, played a role in designing the alien. See
g Aftermath – For some provocative reading, pick up “Sharing the Universe,” by Seth Shostak, at your local bookstore. SETI scientist Shostak almost single-handedly is outlining social and political issues that will arise once we make contact with extraterrestrials.

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