Monday, June 20, 2005

Extrasolar planets, melted asteroids and Dyson Spheres

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 – These days, planets outside of our solar system are being discovered at a rate of about two a week. How to keep up? Try the “Extrasolar Planets Encyclopedia,” a comprehensive collection of information and many links. See
g Abodes – Many of the Earth's volcanic rocks might have come from melted asteroids, according to researchers from the United Kingdom's Open University. The scientists have discovered that many early asteroids were quite volcanic and would have had large magma oceans. These asteroids would have become layered with lighter rock forming near the surface while denser rocks remained deeper inside. The Earth probably grew from the accumulation of these melted asteroids. See article.
g Life – Scientists at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory have constructed a computer simulation that allows them to study the relationship between biochemical fluctuations within a single cell and the cell's behavior as it interacts with other cells and its environment. See article.
g Intelligence – Standing still when a threat is detected is a defensive, protective reaction. This ancestral and automatic behavior allows the prey to stay unnoticed by a potential predator. A new study published in Psychophysiology finds that humans, like many other complex animals, freeze when encountering a threat. See article.
g Message – Could intelligent beings in another solar system have hidden their sun by knocking their planets apart and using the pieces to build a hollow ball around their sun? For more on “Dyson Spheres,” see article.
g Cosmicus – “Martian bread and green tomato jam,” “spirulina gnocchis” and “potato and tomato mille-feuilles” are three delicious recipes that two French companies have created for ESA and future space explorers to Mars and other planets. The challenge for the chefs was to offer astronauts well-flavored food, made with only a few ingredients that could be grown on Mars. The result was 11 tasty recipes that could be used on future ESA long-duration space missions. See article.
g Learning – New to astronomy? Try “Astronomy 101”, a free online course introducing you to the stars. You get a cool certificate at the course’s end.
g Imagining – So, you want to design your own alien species for a science fiction story. The guidelines at this Web site describe some of the general thought processes that went into the creation process, and apply to both sapient and non-sapient life forms. First and foremost, always remember to use our own wonderfully weird earth for inspiration. Insects and deep-marine life forms both provide examples body types and lifestyles that seem very alien indeed. See article.
g Aftermath – Here’s an intriguing essay that discusses what might happen if we do too little to contact extraterrestrials; as the authors argue, “…skepticism regarding SETI is at best unfounded and at worst can seriously damage the long-term prospects of humanity. If ETIs exist, no matter whether friendly or adversarial (or even beyond such simple distinctions), they are relevant for our future. To neglect this is contraryy to the basic tenets of transhumanism. To appreciate this, it is only sufficient to imagine the consequences of SETI success for any aspect of transhumanist interests, and then to affirm that such a success can only be achieved without trying if they come to us, which would obviously mean that we are hopelessly lagging in the race for galactic colonization.” See article.

Read this blogger’s books

No comments: