Saturday, June 25, 2005

Life on Venus, jumping genes and superfluid matter

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 a binary star system starts to transfer mass, one of the twins may well win out, leaving its companion to occupy a strange region half way between a star and a planet. A new star-type of this sort has been found, which resembles the infrared ash of a stillborn star. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Abodes - Microbes may be riding high in the atmosphere of Earth's sister planet, Venus. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Life - Could there have been more than one biogenesis event on Earth? See article.
g Intelligence - Scientists have now found a connection between the variety in the brain's neurons and certain genes that can change their position in the genetic code. These so-called "jumping genes" may gently scramble the blueprints for the brain. See article.
g Message - As far as we know, humanity is alone in the Universe: there is no definite evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life, let alone extraterrestrial civilizations capable of communicating or traveling over interstellar distances. Yet popular speculation about the existence of ETCs abounds, including reports of alien visitations either now or in the past. But there is a middle way. It is now possible to put limits on the existence of ETCs of varying capabilities, within arbitrary distances from the Solar System, and conceive of real-world strategies whereby we might communicate with ETCs, or they with us. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - NASA-funded researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass., have created a new form of superfluid matter. This research may lead to improved superconducting materials, useful for energy-efficient electricity transport and better medical diagnostic tools. See article.
g Learning - What are university students learning about astrobiology? Check out "An Introduction to Astrobiology." Compiled by a team of experts, this textbook has been designed for elementary university courses in astrobiology. It begins with an examination of how life may have arisen on Earth and then reviews the evidence for possible life on Mars, Europa and Titan. The potential for life in exoplanetary systems and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence are also discussed. The text contains numerous useful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. It is also supported by a Web site hosting further teaching materials. Written in an accessible style that avoids complex mathematics, this book is suitable for self-study and will appeal to amateur enthusiasts as well as undergraduate students. It contains numerous helpful learning features such as boxed summaries, student exercises with full solutions, and a glossary of terms. The book is also supported by a Website hosting further teaching materials. See article.
g Imagining - Why is it that people tend to talk of "Martians," rather than, say, "Saturnians" or "Jovians," when the topic of extraterrestrial life is broached? Historically, Mars was thought to be the most likely of the planets to harbor life. Popular culture in the form of literature, and then later radio and film, reflected such beliefs. This review examines Mars in the history of literature. See article.
g Aftermath - Hundreds of astronomers yesterday learned that life in outer space is likely to lack green eyes and be far more prosaic, tiny and, quite possibly, completely unlike life as we know it. This blunt appraisal came from the University of Washington's Center for Astrobiology and Early Evolution, one of the first programs in the country to give an advanced degree in astrobiology. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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