Friday, April 01, 2005

Ice Age tilt, evolving intelligence and cyborgs

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 – Members of an Astrobiology Institute team are using high-precision analysis of tiny grains in meteorites to probe the earliest history of the solar nebula. The age of the solar system is set at 4.567 billion years, and the new work traces some of the history of these small grains during about 300,000 years, before the formation of comets, asteroids or planets. See article.
g Abodes – In the past million years, the Earth experienced a major ice age about every 100,000 years. Scientists have several theories to explain this glacial cycle, but new research suggests the primary driving force is all in how the planet leans. See article.
g Life – Sex is an expensive and risky business. It steals time and drains precious nutrient resources. And each act of reproduction runs the risk of messing up carefully crafted genetic blueprints. So why do we do it? See article.
g Intelligence – What are the biological factors in the evolution of intelligence? See article.
g Message – Just how realistic was the penultimate astrobiology movie, “Contact”? See reviews and discussion.
g Cosmicus – Is your "right stuff" quotient up to snuff? Last December, the U.S. Congress passed the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act of 2004. That legislation gave the Federal Aviation Administration, among other duties, the go-ahead to start shaping rules on medical requirements for a spaceship passenger — termed a "space flight participant" — an individual (who is not crew) carried within a launch vehicle or reentry vehicle. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: “Learning Planet Sizes.” In this activity, learners use the concepts of greater than, less than and equals to classify student height, object size and planet size. They will build scale models of the planets based on their discoveries of planet size. See article.
g Imagining – Are cyborgs, such as Star Trek’s Borg or Bynars, plausible? See article.
g Aftermath – In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

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