Saturday, March 05, 2005

Giant space clouds, southern raptor and SETI vs. the UFOs

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 –Giant space clouds of gas may have changed the climate or atmosphere on Earth and fueled mass extinctions millions of years ago, scientists said this week. See article.
g Abodes – Ice has been building up in the Arctic for 2.7 million years. Until now, no one has been able to prove what mechanism brought about this accumulation of ice. However, a team of international scientists has discovered the mechanism that set off the accumulation of ice. See article.
g Life – Remains of a raptor found in Patagonia - the very southern tip of South America - are the first confirmed raptor dinosaur fossils to come from the Southern Hemisphere. Neuquenraptor argentinus was six feet from head to tail and brandished a razor-sharp claw for slashing prey. It lived about 90 million years ago. See article.
g Intelligence –Anthropologist Desmond Morris suggested the discovery of a human Hobbit on Flores would force many religions to examine their basic beliefs. The suggestion provoked quite a reaction. "The existence of 'Mini-Man' should destroy religion," claims Desmond Morris. See article.
g Message – Can aliens find us? With a really nice pair of binoculars, the Great Wall of China (not to mention less romantic constructions, such as interstate highways) does become visible from orbit. Any curious aliens that made it to within a few hundred miles of Earth would have no trouble seeing the artifacts of our civilization. They would know, without doubt, that technologically competent beings roamed our world. But how visible are we to aliens that are farther away? See article. Here’s the follow-up to the article from 2003.
g Cosmicus – The SMART mission now orbiting the moon has been given a year-long extension to continue its survey of future landing sites. The probe is part of a series designed to explore neighboring worlds using the highly efficient ion drive. See article and related story.
g Learning – Here’s the ultimate science class project: North Pole High School math teacher Curt Szuberla and his students, who braved the elements this winter on NASA’s behalf to scout locations for and build a very-low-frequency radio receiver to help scientists study the eerie "music" of planet Earth — radio waves emitted by lightning strikes and other natural phenomena. See article.
g Imagining – Star Trek fans will be happy to know that “The Animated Series” — 22 cartoon episodes from the 1970s — will be released on DVD on March 15, just 10 days from now. Each day I’ll examine the evolutionary plausibility of the primary alien species, episode by episode, in this space. See a list of some of the species you’ll read about here.
g Aftermath – Tomorrow on SETI’s “Are We Alone?” radio program: More than a third of the public thinks that extraterrestrials are visiting our planet, although few scientists agree. Many folks will passionately insist "They're here," and claim that those who don't agree are closed minded. Any calls for verifiable proof only seem to ignite debate that grows hotter than a branding iron. Why is this discussion so heated? Is the request for more evidence unreasonable? Find out how the question of whether some UFOs might be craft from another world often moves from logical inquiry to a matter of fervently held faith. Dr. Tom McDonough, SETI Advisor to The Planetary Society and author of “The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence: Listening for Life in the Cosmos“ and “The Architects of Hyperspace.” Also, “Brains on Vacation” with astronomer Phil Plait, and a Hollywood reality check with Jim Underdown. See article for local listings. As a bonus, here’s an article from 2000 about the SETI vs. UFO schism.

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