Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Goldilocks, programmed cell death and consequences of success in SETI

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 – The Andromeda Galaxy is three times larger than thought, new observations indicate. See article.
g Abodes – Scientists hunting for alien life can relate to Goldilocks. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Life – Researchers recently discovered a gene essential to one of the plant kingdom's key immune responses - programmed cell death. Plants use PCD to create a protective zone of dead cells around the infection site to prevent the invading pathogen from spreading. But how the plants keep from killing themselves after they turn on the cell-suicide process was a mystery. See article.
g Intelligence – Get someone to sniff a new potion made from the chemical oxytocin and they'll be more willing to loan you money. Trust me on this. Scientists discovered that inhaling the chemical made people more trusting in social situations with random people. See article.
g Message – A 12-inch gold plated copper disk containing recorded sounds and images representing human cultures and life on Earth — intended for extraterrestrial eyes and ears — is traveling about the galaxy. See article.
g Cosmicus – European governments have tentatively decided to go it alone in developing a Mars rover after concluding that a cooperative effort with NASA is impossible given today’s U.S. technology-transfer laws, according to European government officials. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a good primer to astrobiology that discusses what is astrobiology, lists the types of questions astrobiology seeks to answer, describes how one can become an astrobiologist, and recommends some books in the field. See article.
g Imagining – Book alert: Browse the local used bookstores for this volume, which examined the scientific plausibility of many alien creatures in “Star Trek”: “To Seek Out New Life: The Biology of Star Trek.” Published about four years ago, Athena Andreadis' book makes a good read, boosted by her background as a molecular biologist and neurosurgeon. Here’s a review of the book.
g Aftermath – Here’s another “old” piece worth reading: “Consequences of Success in SETI: Lessons from the History of Science”, given during a Bioastronomy Symposium in 1993.

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