Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Lonely galaxies turning blue, “Lonely Planets” and “Star Wars” aliens

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 – There are galaxies that inhabit the nearly empty deserts of space. Unexpectedly, these "void galaxies" are still forming hot, blue stars – even more than the average galaxy in the more populated regions of the universe. See article.
g Abodes – Volcanic eruptions may be an agent of rapid and long-term climate change, according to new research by British scientists. See article.
g Life – Ancient DNA confirms that Malagasy primates share a single origin. See article. For related story, see “Genetic time travel: Scientists decode DNA of extinct animal”.
g Intelligence – A newborn baby moves, breathes and cries in part because a network of nerves, called motor neurons, carry signals from the infant's brain and spinal cord to muscles throughout its body. See articler.
g Message – Astronomer Michael M. Davis checked his computer. One of the antennas on the state-of-the-art radio telescope being built in the valley outside his office was picking up an unusual pulse from beyond the Earth. A signal from another intelligent civilization? Not today. It was the Rosetta Satellite, en route to study a comet. See article.
g Cosmicus – Although Boeing and Lockheed Martin plan to combine production of their respective Delta 4 and Atlas 5 rockets in the near future, for now the companies are pushing separate solutions based on those vehicles to help NASA achieve its goal of returning astronauts to the Moon by 2020. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat set of interviews that Astrobiology magazine did in 2003 with planetary scientist David Grinspoon, in which he discusses his then new book, “Lonely Planets: The Natural Philosophy of Alien Life.” The topics ranged from which planets are best candidates for harboring life to speculative topics about levels of advancement a civilization must pass through to manage its biosphere. It’s a great introduction to astrobiology and the issues scientists in the field are trying to resolve. Read the introduction here. Follow-up articles include: part 1; part 2; part 3; part 4; encore.
g Imagining – Everyone knows the “Star Wars” galaxy is located "far, far away." But how realistic are the alien worlds described in the science fiction saga? See article.
g Aftermath – Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See article.

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