Sunday, February 06, 2005

Dark galaxies, seabed in 3D and what to say to an extraterrestrial

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 – Fitted with its new compound eye on the heavens, the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory telescope, the world's largest and most sensitive single-dish radio telescope, on Saturday began a years-long survey of distant galaxies, perhaps discovering elusive "dark galaxies" — galaxies that are devoid of stars. See article.
g Abodes – Scientists will be able to view the seabed in incredible 3-D detail following new investment and collaboration in the School of Earth, Ocean and Planetary Science at Cardiff University, UK. See article.
g Life – A Duke University neurobiologist and a team of 28 other neuroscientists have proposed sweeping changes to the terminology associated with the brain structures of birds — a century-old nomenclature the researchers consider outdated and irrelevant to birds' true brainpower. See article.
g Intelligence – Is anybody out there? Here’s a lively essay by neurologist and author Oliver Sacks in Astrobiology Magazine.
g Message – "If we want to find evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, we must work out an observational strategy for detecting this evidence in order to establish the various physical quantities in which it involves,” according to the paper “Detectability of Extraterrestrial Technological Activities.” “This information must be carefully analyzed so that it is neither over-interpreted nor overlooked and can be checked by independent researchers.” Read the entire paper online. Note: This paper was presented in 1992.
g Cosmicus – A circular sail, covered with volatile paint and placed in space could reach 60 kilometers per second if hit with a powerful microwave from Earth. This would reduce a trip to Mars to a mere month. See article.
g Learning – Here’s the ultimate Web site for an introduction to astrobiology. “Astrobiology: The Living Universe” is a comprehensive and educational guide to life on Earth and beyond. This site features sections on the chemical origin of life, evolution, planetary biology, the search for extraterrestrial life, supporting humans in space and exobiology.
g Imagining – Looking for an interesting read? Here’s a nifty anthology of science fiction that for the most part approaches extraterrestrials from a hard science fiction perspective: “Aliens and UFOs: Extraterrestrial Tales from Asimov's Science Fiction and Analog Science Fiction and Fact”, by Cynthia Manson, Charles Ardai. It was published in 1993.
g Aftermath – If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose and learn about the thinking behind them.

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