Sunday, February 20, 2005

Regulating galaxy growth, seeing mountains 50 light years away and alien individuality

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g MARS LIFE UPDATE: NASA has issued a statement calling the reports that evidence exists for life presently existing on Mars incorrect — but scientists speaking off the record say the original report was accurate.
g Stars – Using a new computer model of galaxy formation, researchers have shown that growing black holes release a blast of energy that fundamentally regulates galaxy evolution and black hole growth itself. The model explains for the first time observed phenomena and promises to deliver deeper insights into our understanding of galaxy formation and the role of black holes throughout cosmic history, according to its creators. See article.
g Abodes – To map the mountain ranges on a world 50 light-years distant —what’s required? See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Life – The discovery of a nearly intact fossil of a prehistoric crocodile is teaching scientists what the world was like before oceans separated the continents, a Brazilian paleontologist said. A reproduction of the previously unknown creature —dubbed Uberabasuchus Terrificus, or the terrible crocodile of Uberaba — was unveiled last week. See article.
g Intelligence – Sharing 99 percent of a chimpanzee's DNA code does not tell the story of its distance from humans, according to a new report in Science Magazine. The code itself is just part of the story. The cut points or hotspots that combine mates to yield the next generation may determine the difference between species. See article.
g Message – When does asking the right questions tell more than necessarily knowing the right answers? Perhaps when crossing the fertile boundary between biology and astronomy. See article.
g Cosmicus – Since 1976, more than 1,300 NASA technology spin-offs can be found in many industries and in daily life. For example, computer-chip miniaturization, an outcropping from many of the early manned spaceflight activities, has revolutionized items we commonly use today — cell phones, personal data assistants and cordless screwdrivers, just to name a few. See article.
g Learning – What’s the latest in backwards Cobb County, Ga., where a lawsuit was necessary to stop the school board from telling students that evolution wasn’t good science? See essay from the Skeptical Inquirer.

g Imagining – Here’s a set of interesting musings about “characterization and aliens” in science fiction. The point made in the essay is apt: Too many alien species presented in sci-fi are monocultures and lack any individuality. We should presume that if not cultures then certainly individuals of extraterrestrial species will be as diverse as they are in humanity.
g Aftermath – Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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