Monday, April 04, 2005

Medusa Fossae, robotic snake and telepathic aliens

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 – The first two generations of stars did not create the proper environments for planet formation or the development of life, according to calculations that suggest the ingredients for life were not present until at least 500 million years after the Big Bang. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Abodes – Spectacular new images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, show part of the Medusa Fossae formation and adjacent areas at the highland-lowland boundary on Mars. See article.
g Life – These have been exciting times for scientists striving to learn about the origin of life. The possible discovery of fossil microbes in a Martian meteorite has already grabbed the public's attention; another provocative recent study suggests that life may have arisen on Earth far earlier than previously thought. Such work has sharpened one of the most fascinating and least tractable debates in modern science: Is life a remarkable aberration, or is it a likely, perhaps even certain, outcome of the laws of nature? See article. Note: This article is from the 1990s.
g Intelligence – Did evolution shape your taste in a mate? Take this poll.
g Cosmicus – Among robot designers, there is a class of challenge problems. Is it easier to build a flyer, swimmer, walker or crawler? A new Michigan design highlights the advantages of being a robotic snake. What effect will this have on space exploration? See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of NASA: Planet Paths. This activity is designed to help middle school students understand that planets travel in nearly circular orbits around the sun and that planetary motion obeys laws defined by Kepler and Newton.
g Imagining – Are telepathic species, such as Star Trek’s Talosians, plausible? See article.
g Aftermath – The more anthropocentric a person is, the less likely he is to believe that life exists beyond Earth. See article.

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