Saturday, February 05, 2005

Sirius rising, portraits of human ancestors and Planet Altoid

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 – As darkness descends this week, cast a glance over toward the east-southeast and you will see a brilliant, bluish-white star scintillating just above the horizon. You’ll be looking at the brightest star in the sky, the Dog Star, Sirius. See article.
g Abodes – What can a meteor impact do to a region’s geography? Here’s a neat report that explores a late Triassic-era impact crater in southwest France.
g Life – Although we know how and when Pangaea broke apart, the distribution of fossils of the same species on many different continents, separated by vast ocean waters, challenges us to explain how they got there. Plant life on New Zealand, for example, shares striking similarities to that on other Southern Hemisphere landmasses, but scientists have yet to agree on how this came to pass. See article.
g Intelligence – Greater understanding of human physiology and 200 years of fossil finds have improved scientific portrait of human ancestors. See article.
g Message – Here are some moving excerpts from the written testimony submitted by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Department of Astrophysics and Hayden Planetarium, American Museum of Natural History, to the "Life in the Universe" hearings held by the House Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics in 2001.
g Cosmicus – OK, everyone anticipated that Titan was going to be interesting, but few expected it to be weirder than Michael Jackson. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat astrobiology lesson plan for teachers about “Life in the Universe”, courtesy the United Kingdom
. It includes activities.
g Imagining – A few days ago, I noted a neat science fiction alien reading list from Prof. Joan Slonczewski, who taught “Biology 103: Biology in Science Fiction” at Kenyon College in 2003. Her students, using astrobiological principles, attempted to create a number of plausible alien civilizations and worlds as a class project. Here’s another one, the denizens of Planet Altoid.

g Aftermath – Look for an intriguing book to read: “Space, the Final Frontier?” by G. Genta e M. Rycroft. Published in 2003. The book primarily examines how we can become a spacefaring civilization, but it does include an interesting chapter about life in the universe, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, the Drake Equation, intelligent lifeforms, whether other lifeforms will be more like ET or Alien, and the possible humanoid characteristics of extraterrestrials. See commentary and a table of contents.

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