Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Hydrogen-heavy Earth, searching for E.T. in Mexican lakes and fatal inhalation of moon dust

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 – Using two orbiting X-ray telescopes, a team of international astronomers has examined distant galaxy clusters in order to compare them with their counterparts that are relatively close by. See article.
g Abodes – A new University of Colorado at Boulder study indicates Earth in its infancy probably had substantial quantities of hydrogen in its atmosphere, a surprising finding that may alter the way many scientists think about how life began on the planet. See article.
g Life – With cobalt waters harboring eerie, coral-like formations, this archipelago of lakes in Mexico’s searing Chihuahuan desert has always had an otherworldly appearance. Now, top NASA researchers say the calcified clumps of primitive bacteria lurking in its pools could provide important clues in their search for extraterrestrial life. See article.
g Intelligence – Book alert: Check out “Biocosm,” by James N. Gardner and Mark Burnett (with forward by Seth Shostak). The book asks: Is intelligent life merely a bit player in the enormous pageant of the cosmos or is it destined to become something vastly more important, specifically the architect of the universe and of other universes to come? Gardner and Burnett carefully reviews all the best ideas on how to understand the cosmos’s apparent biological imperative and then puts forth a new, and strikingly dramatic, suggestion of their own, one that makes use of the exciting field of complexity science: the “Selfish Biocosm” hypothesis. See reviews.
g Message – Here’s an intriguing hypothesis concerning the nature of extraterrestrial messages to Earth. It is based on the assumptions that aliens exist in abundance in the galaxy, that they are benevolent toward Earth-based life forms and that the lack of any human detection of extraterrestrials is due to an embargo designed to prevent any premature disclosure of their existence. It is argued that any embargo not involving alien force must be a leaky one designed to allow a gradual disclosure of the alien message and its gradual acceptance on the part of the general public over a very long time-scale. The communication may take the form of what is now considered magic, and may therefore be misinterpreted as “magic” or a hoax by contemporary governments and scientists. See article.
g Cosmicus – Inhaling lunar or Martian dust could be bad for astronauts who track it into spacecraft or planetary modules. See article.
g Learning – The battle over the teaching of evolution could heat up over the coming weeks, with Kansas' State Board of Education expected to revise its science standards in June. See article.
g Imagining – You may recall from the “Learning” entry of a few weeks 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, in which humanity encounters the Squitch, a bipedal alien with long, triple-jointed hind legs, which, when extended, scissored out to more than twice the length of the body pod. See article.
g Aftermath – What are the theological implications of a universe willed with many intelligent beings from many other worlds? See article.

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