Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Star nursery close-up, plans for Mars and the secret of termite guts

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 – Detailed new images of the starbirth nursery in the Omega Nebula have revealed a multi component structure in the envelope of dust and gas surrounding a very young star. The stellar newborn, called M17-SO1, has a flaring torus of gas and dust, and thin conical shells of material above and below the torus. See article.
g Abodes – Aiming to nail down whether Mars could have nurtured life in the past, the Mars Science Laboratory will live up to its name, with a state-of-the-art internal chemical and mineralogical laboratory. The rover will pick up rocks, chew, swallow then analyze the minerals in detail as no Mars mission ever has. See article. For related story, see “Tornado, signs of Martian of spring” and “Chaos on Mars”.
g Life – The way termite guts process food could teach scientists how to produce pollution-free energy and help solve the world's imminent energy crisis. Speaking at the Institute of Physics conference Physics 2005 in Warwick on Monday, Nobel laureate Steven Chu urged scientists to turn their attention to finding an environmentally friendly form of fuel. In an impassioned plea to some of the world's brightest minds, he explained how he's leading by example and encouraged others to join the effort that "may already be too late." See article.
g Intelligence – Can common nutrients curb violent tendencies and dispel clinical depression? See article.

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