Sunday, May 29, 2005

Titan’s bright spot, listening to the cosmos’ murmurings and “Extraterrestrial” preview

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 – People of every culture have been fascinated by the dark "spots" on the Moon, which seem to compose the figure of a rabbit, frogs or the face of a clown. With the Apollo missions, scientists found that these features are actually huge impact basins that were flooded with now-solidified lava. One surprise was that these basins formed relatively late in the history of the early solar system — approximately 700 million years after the formation of the Earth and Moon. See article.
g Abodes – Saturn's moon Titan shows an unusual bright spot that has scientists mystified. The spot, approximately the size and shape of West Virginia, is just southeast of the bright region called Xanadu and is visible to multiple instruments on the Cassini spacecraft. See article.
g Life – Scientists from Cardiff University believe that comets striking the Earth could be responsible for transporting bacteria into space, potentially seeding the galaxy with life. When a comet hits the Earth, the "splash back" throws material back into space containing organisms; many would die from heat and radiation, but there's good evidence that many would survive. As the Earth would leave a trail of bacteria behind it as it followed the Sun around the Milky Way — a journey that takes 240 million years. These bacteria could infect any number of worlds, and inevitably spread life across the galaxy. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Intelligence – A new study backs the obvious notion that a song can evoke strong memories. It also reveals that you don't even have to hear a song for the past to come flooding back. In fact, most people have an amazing ability to effectively hear songs that aren't even being played. See article.
g Message – If ET is out there, trying to get in touch with us, his message may well be received first in a quiet rural setting 30 miles northwest of Boston. There, atop a hill overlooking a snow-covered apple orchard and the frozen remnants of a pumpkin patch, a dish-shaped antenna, 84 feet across, faces skyward, attuned to the murmurings of the cosmos. See article. Note: This article is from 1996.
g Cosmicus – Are we there yet? Everyone has faced this exasperating question from impatient companions on a long road trip. Imagine if the trip lasted six months. One way. It takes conventional rockets about six months just to get to Mars. Could a technology send astronauts racing to Mars up to six times faster? See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat set of classroom activities courtesy of NASA: “Go For EVA!” Students learn about the vacuum of space, spacesuits and spacewalks. It includes a downloadable video.
g Imagining – When moviegoers first visited other worlds in the 1977 science fiction phenomenon Star Wars, the eye-popping creatures were the cinematic realization of director George Lucas' imagination. Today, hot on the heels of the highly anticipated premiere of the sixth and final Star Wars movie, the National Geographic Channel presents an array of new and bizarre planetary creatures — but these are scientifically based visions of life as predicted by some of the world's leading scientists. Extraterrestrial," premiering Monday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. CT, is a groundbreaking new show that creates two worlds that scientists believe could exist in our own Milky Way galaxy, putting evolution into motion to investigate what life forms could survive there. Utilizing a combination of computer generated imaging and 3-D effects, "Extraterrestrial" takes viewers on a dazzling galactic journey to come face-to-face with these fantastic alien life forms. See article.
g Aftermath – Looking for some interesting reading on “first contact”? Try the science fiction anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff. The book came out in 1997. Here’s a review (though it’s less than flattering).

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