Friday, March 18, 2005

Encounter with Enceladus, chimps as hominids and “Contact” conference

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 – Astronomers using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton telescope have discovered that observing the giant planet Jupiter actually may give them an insight into solar activity on the Sun’s far side. Jupiter's X-ray glow is due to X-rays from the Sun being reflected off the planet's atmosphere. See article.
g Abodes – The Cassini spacecraft's two close flybys of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus have revealed that the moon has a significant atmosphere. Scientists, using Cassini's magnetometer instrument for their studies, say the source may be volcanism, geysers or gases escaping from the surface or the interior. See article. Related stories: “Enceladus in color” and “Cracked face of Enceladus”.
g Life – Two schools of thought exist on the question of what life (assuming there is any) will be like on other worlds. These fall under the headings of "divergionism" and "convergionism," or to use Harold Blum's terminology, "opportunism" and "determinism.” See article.
g Intelligence – A report argues that chimpanzees are so closely related to humans that they should be included in our branch of the tree of life. Chimpanzees and other apes have historically been separated from humans in classification schemes, with humans deemed the only living members of the hominid family of species. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Message – Here’s a prerecorded Web cast at Aricebo Radio Observatory in March 2003 when scientists listened to the most promising transmissions from UC Berkeley’s SETI@home search. Join the Exploratorium’s Ron Hipschman and special guest Dan Werthimer, chief scientist and principal investigator for the SETI Institute’s efforts, as they also discuss Arecibo Observatory’s search of artificial radio signals coming from other stars here; scroll to “What about Intelligent Life?”
g Cosmicus – Which gadgets can unlock the next technological revolutions? What is the next big thing? To propose answers to this question, the 16 nations of the European Space Agency commissioned a project called "Innovative Technologies from Science Fiction for Space Applications.” See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Learning – Here’s an interesting Web site about anthropology — it offers a very comprehensive, up-to-date resource with more than 20 tutorials, complete with photos and illustrations, about both physical and cultural anthropology. It’s hosted by Palomar College. See site.
g Imagining – In science fiction, aliens often are humanoids. Just how different will extraterrestrial life likely be from the varieties found on Earth? See article.
g Aftermath – An intriguing conference begins today at NASA Ames: ”Contact: Culture of the Imagination.” Contact is a unique interdisciplinary conference that brings together some of the foremost international social and space scientists, science fiction writers and artists to exchange ideas, stimulate new perspectives and encourage serious, creative speculation about humanity's future ... onworld and offworld. See article.

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