Saturday, February 19, 2005

Flash of light, pushing back Homo sapiens’ birth and Beta III humanoids

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 – Scientists have detected a flash of light from across the Galaxy so powerful that it bounced off the Moon and lit up the Earth's upper atmosphere. The flash was brighter than anything ever detected from beyond our Solar System and lasted over a tenth of a second. See article.
g Abodes – The past four weeks have been heady ones in the planet-finding world: Three teams of astronomers announced the discovery of 12 previously unknown worlds, bringing the total count of planets outside our solar system to 145. See article.
g Life – Researchers in California, Israel and Germany have compared three distantly related species — baker's yeast, a worm, and the fruit fly — and reported that protein "wiring" connections in one species are often conserved in all three. See article.
g Intelligence – A new analysis of two human skulls previously found in Africa shows they date from nearly 200,000 years ago, making them the oldest known examples of our species. The finding suggests our ancestors spent a long, long time wallowing in an uncultured era with no music, art or jewelry. See article.
g Message – Interstellar communication took a giant leap forward a few months ago when a Ukrainian space center sent several messages across the cosmos hoping to reach extraterrestrials 30-40 light years away. See article. Note: This article is from July 2003.
g Cosmicus – NASA managers set May 15 as the target launch date for the first post-Columbia shuttle mission, saying on Friday they are confident remaining technical issues, an independent review and a mountain of paperwork can be closed out in time for flight. See article.
g Learning – With the weather beginning to warm across the United States, it’s a great time to get kids interested in amateur astronomy. Here’s a great Web site with a lot of details about how to get started.

g Imagining – Among the earliest Star Trek alien races that were exact duplicates of homo sapiens were the Beta III humanoids (click for picture and click on “Spock and Kirk fire”; look for orange robed man). But the chance of extraterrestrials looking exactly like us is nil. Why? See article for the answer. A note here: The Beta III humanoids show up fairly late in Star Trek’s very first season; until that episode, the series was quite conscious of at least making humanoid aliens different in shape and color — or at least producing an excuse, such as the aliens “assumed” human form for some nefarious purpose. With this race, however, exact duplication of Homo sapiens becomes commonplace in the show.

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