Friday, March 11, 2005

Super volcano eruption and silicon-based life

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 – What did the universe look like when it was only 2 billion to 3 billion years old? Try vegetable soup. See article.
g Abodes – The eruption of a super volcano "sooner or later" will chill the planet and threaten human civilization, British scientists warned this week. And now the bad news: There's not much anyone can do about it. See article.
g Life – Tastes and smells are evocative and play a crucial role in finding food for many animals. A new study of smell perception in honeybees, published in the online journal PLoS Biology, now explains how bees react to a suite of scents and reveals an olfactory map that shows remarkable correspondence to brain activity. See article.
g Intelligence – Those of us who are old enough to remember the Challenger space shuttle tragedy are usually able to remember the explosion almost as if it's a movie running in our heads. That's because there is a well-known tendency for people to have enhanced memory of a highly emotional event, and further, a memory that focuses especially on the "gist" of the event. See article.
g Message – Here’s a classic I stumbled across online: Carl Sagan’s 1978 article “The Quest for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.” Few other pieces so eloquently capture the essential, human purpose behind astrobiology and SETI. See article.
g Cosmicus – As part of NASA’s first return to flight mission, space shuttle Discovery’s STS-114 spaceflight is bound for the International Space Station to deliver food, tools and replacement parts that can’t be shipped to the orbital laboratory any other way. See article.
g Learning – The United States is no longer No. 1 in making the best use of information and communications technology, a new study says. It dropped to fifth place this year, and Singapore is now tops. See article.
g Imagining – A follow-up to the Horta discussion in this section of the blog yesterday: In 1999, a leading U.S. scientist published a book in which he suggested that silicon-based life may exist on planet Earth, deep underground. See these articles about that theory: here, here, and here.
g Aftermath – Book alert: In their November 2003 book “In Cosmic Company: The Search for Life in the Universe,” authors Seth Shostak and Alex Barnett ponder the possibility of alien life and the consequences of receiving a signal from the cosmos. They explain why scientists think sentient life might exist on other worlds, how we could discover it and what it might be like. Entertaining and informative, this hard cover book is lavishly illustrated. See reviews.

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