Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Black hole swarm, young Enceladus and Cosmos 1

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 swarm of 10,000 or more black holes may be orbiting the Milky Way's supermassive black hole, according to new results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This would represent the highest concentration of such objects anywhere in the galaxy. See article.
g Abodes – Many of Saturn's more interesting moons are crusted with ice. The moons are often too small for a radioactive core and internal heating. The bizarre wrinkled surface on one of the moons, Enceladus, may reveal a geologically young age. See article.
g Life – The fossil record may not be perfect, but it passed a critical test with flying colors, according to a study by a University of Chicago paleontologist published in the Feb. 11 issue of the journal Science. See article.
g Intelligence – A Northwestern University study is the first to suggest that delayed brain development and its interaction with puberty may be key factors contributing to language-based learning disabilities. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Message – Book alert: The discovery of life on other planets would be perhaps the most momentous revelation in human history, more disorienting and more profound than either the Copernican or Darwinian revolutions that knocked the earth from the center of the universe and humankind from its position of lofty self-regard. In “Here Be Dragons: The Scientific Quest for Extraterrestrial Life,” astronomer by David W. Koerner and neurobiologist Simon Levay offer a scientifically compelling and colorful account of the ongoing search for life beyond Earth. See
g Cosmicus – The Planetary Society's oft-delayed Cosmos 1 solar sail is finally on the verge of launching on its test mission to validate the practicality of a revolutionary propulsion method that relies on sunlight instead of chemical rocket fuels. See aticle.
g Learning – Holy evolution, Darwin! Comics take on science: In recent years, a few scientists and comic book artists have joined forces to portray the excitement of science, scientific ideas and the drama of discovery. The latest one stars Charles Darwin, explaining evolutionary theory to a tiny follicle mite living in his eyebrow. Click here to hear the story.

g Imagining – Looking for some classic science fiction alien movies? Here’s a fairly exhaustive list, with brief explanations of each. Now in how each one the aliens really are just mythical monsters that play on human psychology (specifically fear or revulsion). Such films really say less about the evolution of potential extraterrestrial lifeforms and civilizations than about the evolution of human beings and our culture. In fact, here’s an essay that examines a specific detail of that notion: “An Exploration of the Relationship Between Science Fiction Film and the UFO Mythology”.
g Aftermath – If you could send a message to an extraterrestrial somewhere across the galaxy, what would you say? Post your own message or read some of the highlighted submissions.

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