Friday, February 11, 2005

Star flees galaxy, gliding ants and silicon-based life forms

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 – Having lost its companion in a close brush our Milky Way's supermassive black hole, a fast-moving star appears to have had enough. It's fleeing the galaxy. Moving at more than 1.5 million mph (670 kilometers per second), the speedy star's path has been traced back to the galactic center. Here's what astronomers think happened.
g Abodes – The first images of the seabed that was rocked by the earthquake that triggered Asia's catastrophic tsunami revealed huge ruptures spanning several miles along the Indian Ocean's floor. See article.
g Life – The discovery of gliding ants shows wingless flight has arisen throughout the animal kingdom. See article.
g Intelligence – Lawyers are often suspicious of so-called "eyewitness accounts" and rightly so. Hundreds of scientific studies in the past few decades have shown that the memories of people who observe complex events are notoriously susceptible to alteration if they receive misleading information about the event after it has taken place. In this month's issue of the journal Learning & Memory, scientists from Johns Hopkins University report new insights into how such "false memories" are formed. See article.
g Message – Here’s a neat Web site: A 14-part online series about the history of SETI.
g Cosmicus – Safe on Mars, part II: What challenges might arise beyond the logistics of getting to Mars? Weather and biology issues may face astronauts working within an extended stay mission. See article
g Learning – Here’s an amazing figure: Teaching the age and history of our planet is included in only 55 percent of our 50 states’ science education standards. See article for more.
g Imagining – Could silicon-based lifeforms, such as Star Trek’s Horta, actually exist? Here’s an overview of how various science fiction writers have approached silicon-based life.

g Aftermath – Book alert: You may have to really scour used book stores for this one: 1976’s “ETI: The First Encounter” considers the consequences to man's view of himself and his world of the first proven contact — when it comes — with beings from another planet. Edited by James L. Christian, this book led the way in reflecting on the next stage in man's gradual self-discovery.

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