Sunday, February 27, 2005

HabCat, deep-sea tube worms and Fermi’s Paradox, Part I

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 – When the Allen Telescope Array comes online in a few years, its thousand-fold better radio search capabilities will soon exhaust previously cataloged stars with potentially habitable planets. So Margaret Turnbull and Jill Tarter have a new list, called HabCat: A Catalog of Nearby Habitable Stellar Systems. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Abodes – Three-quarters of the 250 Mars science experts meeting to analyze the results from U.S. and European Mars probes believe life could have existed on Mars in the past, and 25 percent think life could be there even now, according to a poll released Friday. See article.
g Life – With an incredible lifespan of up to 250 years, the deep-sea tube worm, Lamellibrachia luymesi, is among the longest-lived of all animals, but how it obtains sufficient nutrients — in the form of sulfide — to keep going for this long has been a mystery. See article.
g Intelligence – Following the Asian tsunami, scientists struggled to explain reports that primitive aboriginal tribesmen had somehow sensed the impending danger in time to join wild animals in a life-saving flight to higher ground. While some scientists discount the existence of a sixth sense for danger, new research from Washington University in St. Louis has identified a brain region that clearly acts as an early warning system — one that monitors environmental cues, weighs possible consequences and helps us adjust our behavior to avoid dangerous situations. See article.

g Message – Fermi’s Paradox, Part I: Is there obvious proof that we could be alone in the galaxy? Enrico Fermi, an icon of physics, thought so — might he have been right? Fermi is best remembered for building a working atomic reactor in a squash court. But in 1950, Fermi made a seemingly innocuous lunchtime remark that has caught and held the attention of every SETI researcher since (How many luncheon quips have you made with similar consequence?). See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus – Rat pups learn by exploration, but their journey may be less random and more convoluted that a robot can mimic. Now experiments with sensors on the snout of a mobile robot shows that robots may be less random explorers than one might first suppose. What effect will this have on space exploration? See article
g Learning – Are you a future SETI scientist? See article. Note: This article is from Feb. 2001.

g Imagining – Book alert: Of course, quality science fiction is really less about aliens than the human condition. That’s why you ought to scour some used bookstores for this rare edition: “Star Trek on the Brain: Alien Minds, Human Minds,” by Robert Sekuler and Randolph Blake. An educational and entertaining nonfiction work that uses Star Trek to explain the workings of the human mind, the authors (both psychology professors) have put together an excellent and highly readable neurology primer. Their two-pronged task is to give a Star Trek example and then link it to contemporary science of the nervous system. Do you want to better understand emotions, their cultural implications and universal expressions? Then this is the book. See reviews.
g Aftermath – Douglas Vakoch is one of a relatively small collection of scientists addressing the question of how to talk back to extraterrestrials. While most researchers involved in the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence come from physics and engineering backgrounds, Vakoch draws on a background in linguistics, sociology and psychology to explore SETI-related issues. Here’s an interview with him from Aug. 2003 about communicating with ET.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

No comments: