Thursday, April 14, 2005

Reviving mammoths, synesthesia and planets as lifeforms

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 – Located in the Lupus I (the Wolf) cloud, a region of star formation about 400-500 light-years away, a young T-Tauri star may be either a new planet or a failed star. Although the borderline between the two is still a matter of debate, one way to distinguish between them is by their mass. If a new observation of this object holds, GQ Lupi b would thus be the youngest and lightest exoplanet to have been imaged. See article.
g Abodes – If increased precipitation and sea surface heating from global warming disrupts the Atlantic Conveyer current — as some scientists predict — the effect on the ocean food chain in the Atlantic and other oceans could be severe, according to a new study just published in Nature. See article.
g Life – Scientists with the Mammoth Creation Project hope to find a frozen woolly mammoth specimen with sperm DNA. The sperm DNA would then be injected into a female elephant; by repeating the procedure with offspring, a creature 88 percent mammoth could be produced within 50 years. See article.
g Intelligence – To most people a "red-letter day" is merely a metaphor. But it's everyday reality to a synesthete who sees the alphabet in colors. Synesthesia, a condition characterized by one sensory experience generating another — so that shapes have tastes, for instance — is estimated to affect between 1 in 200 to 1 in 2,000 people. See article.
g Message – Book alert: In “Beyond Contact: A Guide to SETI and Communicating with Alien Civilizations,” author Brian McConnell examines the science and technology behind the search for intelligent life in space, from the physics of inter-stellar laser and radio communication to information theory and linguistics. If you've ever wondered whether it really would be possible to communicate with other civilizations, you'll want to read this book. See reviews and sample chapters.
g Cosmicus – After decades of sending probes across the void of interplanetary space, officials are now reshaping how solar system exploration is accomplished. The renovation is due in large measure to the visionary Moon, Mars and beyond directive given to NASA by President George W. Bush just more than a year ago. While money and mandate are in a state of near-rendezvous, the melding of space science objectives with human exploration goals is still to be fully played out, as is the prospect of broader international collaboration. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a quality Web introduction to the solar system: “The Nine Planets”. The site is an overview of the history, mythology and current scientific knowledge of each planet and the major moons in our solar system. Each page has text and NASA's images, some have sounds and movies, most provide references to additional related information.
g Imagining – Can planets themselves be lifeforms, as in Olaf Stapledon’s “Star Maker”? See article.
g Aftermath – Book alert: The authentic discovery of extraterrestrial life would usher in a scientific revolution on par with Copernicus or Darwin, says Paul Davies in “Are We Alone?: Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.” Just as these ideas sparked religious and philosophical controversy when they were first offered, so would proof of life arising away from Earth. With this brief book (160 pages, including two appendices and an index), Davies tries to get ahead of the curve and begin to sort out the metaphysical mess before it happens. Many science fiction writers have preceded him, of course, but here the matter is plainly put. This is a very good introduction to a compelling subject. See reviews.

Read this blogger’s books

No comments: