Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Milky Way’s age, the dynamic continuum in each of us and ‘Sharing the Universe’

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 - A University of Chicago professor has developed a new way to calculate the age of the Milky Way that is free of the unvalidated assumptions that have plagued previous methods. The method, which is examined in the latest issue of the journal Nature, can now be used to tackle other mysteries of the cosmos that have remained unsolved for decades. See article.
g Abodes - With the latest discovery of a "Super-Earth" around a dim, red star 15 light years from Earth, SETI scientists have been pondering the implications for their search for intelligence on other worlds article. "This planet answers an ancient question," said Geoffrey Marcy, professor of astronomy at the University of California-Berkeley and leader of the team that discovered the planet, which is seven to eight times the mass of Earth. "Over 2,000 years ago, the Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus argued about whether there were other Earth-like planets. Now, for the first time, we have evidence for a rocky planet around a normal star." See article.
g Life - At a recent meeting of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, molecular evolutionist Mitch Sogin explained how understanding the diversity of microbial life on Earth could help scientists in the search for life on other worlds. See article.
g Intelligence - The mind doesn't work like a computer but more like a biological organism: Not in distinct stages but as a dynamic continuum, cascading through shades of gray, concludes a new study that looked at language processing by Michael Spivey of Cornell University, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. See article.
g Message - It's possible to split up the methods of finding extraterrestrial life into two categories; humans trying to discover extraterrestrial life, and humans trying to be discovered by extraterrestrial life. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - On Mars, water ice may be both biological buried treasure and a rich resource for future Mars explorers. See article.
g Learning - The National Science Teachers Association publication for middle school teachers, Science Scope (9/04) features the article "Astrobiology in the Classroom" and a pullout activity guide. The article describes the scope of astrobiology and how astrobiology might fit into science education. The activity guide is designed to help you introduce astrobiology in your regular science curriculum. It can be used on its own or in conjunction with the NOVA Origins TV show, a four-part PBS series, which aired in 2004. See article and activity guide.
g Imagining - In our current cultural fascination with the idea of alien beings from other worlds, most of it hokey at best and just plain wrong at worst, there is a definite need for some popular-level literature which helps to sort the rational wheat from the pseudoscience and Hollywood chaff. SETI scientist Seth Shostak wrote such a book, “Sharing the Universe,” in 1998. Shostak gives a comprehensive and most readable survey of what we do (and especially do not) know about life beyond the planet Earth, and how we are going about searching for our fellow inhabitants of the universe. See article.
g Aftermath - How to predict reactions to receipt of evidence for an otherworldly intelligence? Some scientists argue that any unpredictable outcomes can only be judged against our own history. See article.

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