Thursday, March 17, 2005

Rock’n’roll stars, Hubble’s future and what to say to ET

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 – New observations reveal that the early universe had its own version of rock’n’roll stars – galaxies that grew fast and died young. What killed these up-and-comers is not yet known. See article.
g Abodes – Ecologists know that when it comes to habitats, size matters, and now a new study finds that contrary to earlier beliefs, that maxim holds true right down to the tiny plants at the bottom of many oceanic and freshwater food chains. See article.
g Life – It is one of the mysteries of biology: How does tooth enamel, the hardest mineral in the mammalian body, emerge from soft, organic gum tissue? An important part of the answer appears in a report in the latest issue of Science. See article.
g Intelligence – Here’s a Web site, beautifully illustrated by paleoartist John Gurche, that presents "the story of human evolution in a broadband documentary experience." Users can examine fossil evidence, compare hominid anatomies and study cultural milestones. The site also offers the latest news and debates in paleoanthropology, as well as a comprehensive resource and Web guide. It’s presented by the Institute of Human Origins. See article.
g Message – "Surely one of the most marvelous feats of 20th-century science would be the firm proof that life exists on another planet. In that case, the thesis that life develops spontaneously when the conditions are favorable would be far more firmly established, and our whole view of the problem of the origin of life would be confirmed." Stanley Miller and Harold Urey wrote in 1959. Unfortunately, their dream has not been realized, and as we begin this new millennium the question of whether life exists beyond the Earth remains unanswered. However, there are reasons for optimism that in the not-too-distant future we may have an answer. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus – Next week, NASA will hold a major review regarding the Hubble Space Telescope with dozens of engineers and other experts. The gathering is seen by some industry sources as a make-or-break event for any possibility of saving the observatory. See article.
g Learning – “Bad” news for new parents: Babies are smarter than the rest of us. See article.
g Imagining – How would evolutionary theory apply to extraterrestrial lifeforms? And why should science fiction writers pay more attention to it? See article.
g Aftermath – The spaceship comes down in your backyard, crushing a bed of petunias, and out steps the alien. This is always an awkward social moment. What, exactly, do you say to someone who may hold the secrets to the universe? See article.

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