Sunday, June 12, 2005

Short gamma ray bursts, you’re an alien and first contact’s effect on science fiction

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 – Astronomers have uncovered tantalizing insights into the origin of short gamma-ray bursts - mysterious, split-second high-energy flashes that have eluded detailed study until now. Unlike their long-duration cousins, which are known to arise when massive young stars die, short bursts are thought to occur when old, dense neutron stars collide. See article.
g Abodes – NASA successfully tested a new instrument that will provide scientists with unprecedented measurements to further the agency's understanding of climate change. See article.
g Life – A new hypothesis suggests that modern crocodilians are descended from warm-blooded (endothermic) animals and secondarily re-evolved ectothermy. See article.
g Intelligence – Imagine a shiny new BMW sitting in your driveway. Now, imagine a shiny new Hyundai. Now, come up with one reason why you should drive that BMW. How about 10 reasons? What about the Hyundai? A little bit harder, isn't it? An article in the June 2005 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research explores how and why consumers use prior information to decide to buy a BMW or a Hyundai. See article.
g Message – What happens if the next signal turns out to be the real thing? What happens if the sender wants to talk? Will we know what to say? See astrobiology primer.
g Cosmicus – It might surprise you to know that legendary science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, who wrote about traveling to Mars decades before NASA's Spirit rover got there in the past year, thinks you're an alien. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Learning – The National Center for Science Education is a nationally recognized clearinghouse for information and advice to keep evolution in the science classroom and "scientific creationism" out. NCSE is the only national organization to specialize in this issue. It provides: reviews of current anti-evolution activity in the United States and around the world; background to the fundamentally creationist and anti-evolution movement known as "Intelligent Design"; detailed information on the Creation/Evolution controversy from 1859 to the present; resources for parents, teachers, school boards and the general public. Contact NCSE if you need advice, information or help in defending the teaching of evolution. We also work to increase public understanding of evolution and of the nature of scientific knowledge.
g Imagining – One of the creepiest concepts in science-fiction horror has been transformed into a huggable soft and cuddly toy. See article.
g Aftermath – What affect would the discovery of alien life have on the story-telling genre that inspires the search for it — science fiction? See article.

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