Wednesday, March 02, 2005

IceCube, Japanese base on Moon and relating to ETIs

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 – Two University of California at Berkeley scientists have just returned from the South Pole, where they and an international team of scientists, engineers and drillers have set in place the first critical elements of a massive neutrino telescope called IceCube. See article.
g Abodes – A new theory of how planets form finds havens of stability amid violent turbulence in the swirling gas that surrounds a young star. These protected areas are where planets can begin to form without being destroyed. The key to understanding how planets are made is a phenomenon called gravitational instabilities. See article.
g Life – Two soil-dwelling strangers — a friend and a foe — approach a plant and communicate with it in order to enter a partnership. The friend wants to trade nitrogen for food. The foe is a parasite that wants to burrow in and harm the plant. See article.
g Intelligence – When the bones of two early humans were found in 1967 near Kibish, Ethiopia, they were thought to be 130,000 years old. A few years ago, researchers found 154,000- to 160,000-year-old human bones at Herto, Ethiopia. Now, a new study of the 1967 fossil site indicates the earliest known members of our species, Homo sapiens, roamed Africa about 195,000 years ago. See article.
g Message – In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake wrote the equation that put the search for alien civilizations on a scientific footing and launched the modern SETI movement. How do the numbers look today? See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

g Cosmicus – Japan plans to start building a manned base on the moon and a manned space shuttle within the next 20 years, a newspaper report said Monday. See article.
g Learning – "For all positive integers w and y, where w > y, let the operation be defined by w y = 2w+y / 2w-y. For how many positive integers w is w 1 equal to 4?" Questions like that no doubt caused some test takers, in between palpitations, to wonder whether they were any good at math. Girls, especially, might have found their thoughts wandering to the news that just a week earlier, Lawrence H. Summers, president of Harvard University, had said that "intrinsic" differences in aptitude between the sexes might be an important reason that men dominate the science-and-engineering work force. The remarks sparked widespread protests, and Summers quickly apologized. But a growing body of research suggests that there is some truth in his comments. See article.
g Imagining – Designing aliens and alien cultures is easy. It can even be profitable. Look at ET or the barroom scene in Star Wars. Nothing to it. Tack some funny appendages on a basically human form, paint the creature an unusual but not unappealing color, and go. Simple, right? Designing aliens and their cultures rigorously, though, building their worlds according to scientific rules, carefully and logically extrapolating extraterrestrial evolution and cultural development, creating an alien species that is believable and self-consistent, that's a different matter. That's hard. See article. Note: This article is from 1992.
g Aftermath – Could humanity ever relate to an alien species? Consider the questioning context of these online speculations about why "Star Trek is human centered?" The latter is an interesting question, possibly creating a situation dealing with a prejudice on the behalf of the writers and producers. However, would a series completely dedicated to another species, such as the Romulans, be successful in a television market? Is it possible that the reasons it wouldn’t be might indicate humanity may care little about an alien species other than as a potential threat? See article.

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