Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Life from dying stars, machine intelligence and Epona

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 – Dying stars may warm previously frozen worlds around them to the point where liquid water temperature exists long enough for life to form, according to a new analysis of the evolution of habitable zones around stars by an international team of astronomers. See article.
g Abodes – The asteroid that struck the Yucatan Peninsula 65 million years ago presumably initiated the extinction of the dinosaurs. The huge collision also unleashed a worldwide downpour of tiny BB-sized mineral droplets, called spherules. See article.
g Life – Would life forms on other worlds have to possess eyes, ears and limbs like higher organisms on Earth? Would they have to have a similar genetic code? Or can life exist not as we know it? These questions may be unanswerable now, but astrobiologists are anxious to answer the underlying question: How do you define life? See article. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Intelligence – Researchers at The University of Manchester's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences are studying the relationship between the biology of the nervous system, anxiety symptoms and behavioral problems. In particular they are interested in generalized anxiety disorder and anti-social personality disorder. See article.
g Message – SETI scientists speculate on whether or not the first extraterrestrial intelligence they contact will be machine intelligence or biological intelligence. See article. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Cosmicus – NASA announced last week the first two cash prizes offered as part of the agency’s Centennial Challenges program. Its mission is to encourage the commercialization of space transportation. See article.
g Learning – Bringing Mars into your classroom fosters an appreciation of the beauty of another world and offers the excitement of discovery. At “Mission to Mars,” children with interests across a wide spectrum can have fun learning about the Athena mission. Whether you're teaching astronomy or biology, you'll find ideas and inspiration for bringing the science of the solar system to your students here.
g Imagining – You may recall from the “Learning” entry of a few days ago that for several years a “game” called COTI has been available, in which the “players” design an integrated world, alien life form and culture and simulate contact with a future human society. Here are the results of one of those simulations, the creation of the world Epona. See article.
g Aftermath – Book alert: A couple of years back, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author David Brin teamed up with illustrator Kevin Lenagh to offer “Contacting Aliens: An Illustrated Guide to David Brin's Uplift Universe”, the definitive guide for any fan of the Uplift series or, as Brin would have it, a training handbook for Terragen Field Agents. It’s also a great science fiction examination of what happens when two alien species contact one another.

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