Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Liquid water once on Mars, Australian megafauna and most Americans believe alien life is possible

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 – When it comes to mysterious X-rays from Saturn, the ringed planet may act as a mirror, reflecting explosive activity from the Sun, according to scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. See article.
g Abodes – In their explorations of Mars, both the Spirit and Opportunity rovers found evidence that liquid water was once on the planet's surface. Joy Crisp, project scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Rovers, discussed the rovers' long journey and their surprising discoveries at a public lecture on May 19. See article. For related story, see “The Bluster on Mars” here.
g Life – Analyses of ancient fossils suggest that early Australian Aborigines did not wipe out the continent's megafauna in a frenzied hunting rampage. New research conducted by Australian and British scientists reveals that in fact humans and megafauna, such as gigantic three-ton wombat-like creatures, a ferocious marsupial "lion" and the world's all-time biggest lizard, may have co-existed for around 15,000 years. See article.
g Intelligence – In an age of e-mails, databases and online catalogues, two heads may no longer be better than one, according to new ESRC-sponsored research into the effects of information overload. See article.
g Message – The spectral approach is a universal tool of both astronomical observations and SETI. Furthermore, it has a clear physical meaning – a spectrometer finds the energy distribution of photons, in human sensing it is color and pitch. Under the hypothesis on identity of physical laws in our part of universe, it may be proposed that spectrometry also are using by those aliens, who know radio and lead theirs own SETI, too. See article.
g Cosmicus – NASA's Mercury-bound MESSENGER spacecraft - less than three months from an Earth flyby that will slingshot it toward the inner solar system - successfully tested its main camera by snapping distant approach shots of Earth and the Moon. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a wonderful Web site for kids: “Mysteries of Space and Time”. By the time a student finishes navigating this site, space should no longer be a mystery. Using clever graphics and offering games and other interactive features, this resource thoroughly covers black holes, the planets, and many anomalies of space. The lab section will be particularly helpful to astronomy students.
g Imagining – Scientists at the SETI Institute have long considered what life might be like on other worlds. You can join in this quest through a game-like science lesson, "Inventing Life Forms." It’s suitable for inventors of all ages. Using one of a pair of dice, you work through the selection of characteristics for your life form. Then, you apply this data and your imagination to invent a life form and develop a world where your creature could live. Download the instructions for "Inventing Life Forms" from the SETI Institute website. It’s the PDF lesson featured with our teaching guide, "How Might Life Evolve on Other Worlds?"
g Aftermath – While most depictions of extraterrestrials are confined to science fiction, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that some form of alien life exists somewhere in the universe, according to a new survey. See article.

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