Sunday, March 20, 2005

Spring one day early, Zoom Astronomy and the Alchemists

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 – After 25 years of sweat and tears, a University of Southern California astronautics professor finally has his wish: a chance to probe the very edges of our solar system with a spacecraft that can measure from afar the interactions of the solar wind with interstellar dust and gas. See article.
g Abodes – Even if all industrial pollution and auto emissions suddenly ceased today, Earth's climate will warm at least 1 degree by the year 2100 and seas will rise 11 centimeters, according to a new study. The warming is likely to continue through 2400, another study forecasts. See article.
g Life – A frozen mammoth dug up from the Siberian tundra was unveiled in central Japan in a preview of the six-month World Exposition which is expected to draw millions of tourists. See article.
g Intelligence – When we were all growing up, the first day of spring always was March 21, not March 20, right? Now all of a sudden spring comes on March 20. How did that happen? See article.
g Message – Here’s a fascinating talk with Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI Research and the inspiration behind Jody Foster’s character in the movie “Contact.” Find out about the tools and technologies being developed for a multigenerational effort to search for other advanced civilizations beyond our solar system here; scroll to “Listening for the Long Term.”
g Cosmicus – There's still a long way to go before today's robots evolve into practical, everyday technologies, but even now, autonomous robotic vehicles are exploring uncharted or hazardous places and performing household tasks. New machines may offer the surrogate exploration frontier for extending human reach further into the solar system. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat Web site: “Zoom Astronomy,” a comprehensive “primer” to space and astronomy. It is designed for people of all ages and levels of comprehension. It has an easy-to-use structure that allows readers to start at a basic level on each topic and then progress to much more advanced information as desired, simply by clicking on links. See article.
g Imagining – You may recall from yesterday’s “Learning” entry 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, in which humanity encounters the Alchemists, sea creatures of a new taxon combining many characteristics found in Earth’s cetaceans, crustaceans and mollusks. See article.
g Aftermath – The statement that extraterrestrial intelligence exists or doesn’t can have the parallel statement that God exists or doesn’t. Some people say there’s already sufficient evidence of existence for both. If you set aside abductions and miracles, it’s true that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence for either. However, if and when humanity ever detects evidence of an extraterrestrial intelligence, it will break the symmetry of these two statements and, in fact, that evidence will be inconsistent with the existence of God or at least organized religions. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

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