Sunday, December 19, 2004

Exploding meteor, winter solstice musings and Thasians

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 – A meteor apparently exploded over Indonesia’s capital early this morning. See article.
g Abodes – As a multidisciplinary field, astrobiology demands an understanding of astronomy, biology, geology, paleontology and a variety of other sciences. This holiday season, there’s a great new book out examining earth’s history in a way that doesn’t make “the study of rocks”, er …dry. It’s “Earth: An Intimate History,” by Richard Fortey. See review.
g Life – From the rare international cooperation for the truth files: A pre-eminent Chicago paleontologist will join his Chinese mentor to explore a frigid plateau in Tibet, once a lush island on a multiyear expedition. See article.
g Intelligence – While Christmas is not about resurrection, it is about rebirth. I write not of the Christmas story that forms the real reason for this holiday, mind you, but about the symbols of rebirth permeating our traditions. Those influences speak to us at an almost unconscious level, telling us what it means to be human. See my musings on the topic.
g Message – Astrobiology hits the airwaves: If you haven’t heard “Are We Alone” yet, be sure to tune into the weekly SETI radio broadcast, usually on Sunday nights at 9 p.m. CST. For details and a radio station near you (you also can hear it via the Web), see list.
g Cosmicus – Several challenges face NASA’s next chief. See article about the issue. If you reside in the World-Journal’s circulation area, I urge you to write a letter to the editor defending the fact of evolution. Kudos to Erin Questad for already doing so. Submit a letter to the Journal-World here.

g Imagining – Another early “Star Trek” alien is the Thasians, who serve a deux ex machina role in one episode. The Thasians apparently are a noncorporeal life form that gave a human child incredible powers of telekinesis. Such capabilities, as exhibited by the child (now a 17-year-old teenager) appear to stem from within his own physical being, however. The Thasians themselves also are dependent on the physical reality of a spacecraft for traveling beyond their planet. Of course, how a noncorporeal life form might exist is beyond our physical science, though one might suspect it is an organized pattern of electrical impulses, somehow held together and organized without use of a physical platform (such as our brain cells) — though their powers can be transferred to such a platform, as occurs with the boy. Most likely the Thasians did not evolve as noncorporeal life forms but instead, being eons ahead of us in technology, rely on machines (using teleportation-like technology) to do their work; their own beings might be interfaced with such machines so a mere concentrated thought can command it. The Thasians, thus feeling encumbered by physical form, shifted to another dimension — again, more fiction than reality — where the very nature of that space allows the beings (electrical patterns) to remain organized, and perhaps better able to communicate with their machines. Of course, too little was said about the Thasians in the episode, though the boy did note that the Thasians do not “feel” or “touch” in the same way that humans do.
g Aftermath – For one futurist’s thoughts about what will happen to humanity when we make first contact with aliens, click here. I offer this site not for its scientific rigor but as an example of something all of us who care about astrobiology should consider: What are the trends in popular culture about first contact? Such thinking will greatly influence public reaction when first contact actually does occur.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

No comments: