Friday, May 27, 2005

Microlensing, resilient Earth and solar sail launch

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 – For the first time, amateur and professional astronomers have teamed up to discover a new planet circling a distant star. The planet was detected by looking for the effect of its gravitational field on light from a more distant star, a technique known as microlensing. See article.
g Abodes – Destroying the Earth is harder than you may have been led to believe. The Earth was built to last. It is 4.55 billion years old and taken more devastating asteroid hits in its lifetime than you've had hot dinners. See article.
g Life – Neurobiologists have discovered a specialized night-vision brain area in night-migratory songbirds. They believe the area might enable the birds to navigate by the stars, and to visually detect the earth's magnetic field through photoreceptor molecules, whose light-sensitivity is modulated by the field. See article.
g Intelligence – A mere 70 individuals likely founded the Native American and Eskimo populations in North America, according to a new study. See article.
g Message – If we are to learn about distant life, it must make itself perceptible. As far as we can see, only life that has followed our own evolution to the extent of being able to send some mark of its presence across space can be found. This must mean that intelligence develops naturally out of evolving life, that it can make signals capable of traversing space, and that, for some period of time at least, it wants to make its presence known (or at least does not conceal it!). If these conditions exist anywhere, we might hope to detect creatures far older and more capable than ourselves. Exploration would then cross a new frontier; the frontier of an intelligence biologically wholly unrelated to our own. See article
g Cosmicus – A wait in excess of four years is almost over for scientists and engineers eagerly awaiting launch of the first test flight of a revolutionary solar sail. The spacecraft has been shipped from its factory to a port in far northern Russia to undergo final preparations for its submarine launch next month. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat Web site: “Astronomy for Kids”. It contains color skymaps, planets, stars, puzzles and links.
g Imagining – How did humanity come to believe that intelligent life exists in other solar systems? See article.
g Aftermath – It was not suggested outside of science fiction—and there only after the 1890s—that extraterrestrials might come to Earth, except for a few believers in interplanetary spirit travel by mortals (an idea now well established among occultists). Among these was the well-known Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, who, in what was perhaps the earliest conception of ETs as “gods from outer space,” reasoned that since no beings from other worlds have used their advanced science to abolish suffering on Earth, “Is there not reason to fear that we are for ever alone in the universe, and that no other world has ever been more intelligent or better than our own?” But this, the first serious “Where are they?” argument, was not known to the general public and in any case would not have carried weight, since it depended on the concept of disembodied spirits. Physical contact between worlds was not thought possible outside of fiction. See article.

Read this blogger’s books

No comments: