Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Black hole birth, heavenly early Earth and girls in space

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 – Astronomers photographed a cosmic event Monday morning which they believe is the birth of a black hole, has learned. See article.
g Abodes – The prevailing view of early Earth is that it was utter hell, a fiery environment unsuitable for life. Scientists even named it the Hadean eon, for the ancient Greek word for the down under. But the planet may have been suitable for life just 200 million years after the solar system formed, new research suggests. See article. For related story, see “Thermometer reveals wet conditions on earliest Earth”.
g Life – The first comprehensive study of the proteins in a microbial community is providing insights into how microorganisms evolve, specialize and cooperate in order to adapt to extreme conditions of temperature, acidity and toxicity. See article.
g Intelligence – While some psychologists still argue that people perform better when they do something because they want to - rather than for some kind of reward, such as money – one suggests we shouldn't even make that distinction. See
g Message – The privatization of SETI has resulted in global participation in signal detection and analysis activities by a wide range of non-professionals. The SETI community welcomes this grass-roots support, every bit as much as the optical observing community honors the significant scientific contributions of the world's amateur astronomers. However, as SETI observatories spring up on college campuses and in home gardens worldwide, a need emerges for establishing rigorous signal verification protocols and stringent standards of proof. See article. Note: This article from 1999.
g Cosmicus – Eileen Collins will lead the Discovery shuttle as it blasts into space in July, but NASA's first female shuttle commander remains among the few pioneering women in the male-dominated field. See article.
g Learning – Here are some great teacher resources on space biology. The modules cover such topics as “Life in the Universe,” “Radiation Biology” and “Life in Space Environments.” Each module includes an introduction, readings and references, teaching resources and research and applications.
g Imagining – Quantum physics and biochemistry is real, hard as nails science, say many physicists and also, it appears, those who write SF books and screenplays. But, reproductive biologist Jack Cohen asks, “Is biology a science?” And what affect does the answer have on our ability to imagine and recognize extraterrestrial life? See article.
g Aftermath – Astrobiology is more than an esteemed partner conducting routine grunt work to increase our confidence that SETI will lead to a confirmed detection. Advances in astrobiology force us to rethink our search strategies and our plans for managing contact and its aftermath. See article.

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