Friday, June 17, 2005

Super-Earth, Jodrell Bank and trusting the government

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 – SETI scientists are taking notice of the latest discovery of a "Super-Earth" beyond the solar system as they fine-tune their list of stars to target in their search for extraterrestrial intelligence. With the recent announcement of a planet seven to eight times the Earth’s mass circling an M dwarf star, the chances for habitable worlds seem greater than ever. "It may well be that there are far more habitable planets orbiting M dwarfs than orbiting all other types of stars combined," explained Frank Drake, the Director of the SETI Institute’s Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. See article.
g Abodes – Hidden deep inside the Earth are rare pockets of exotic materials, the likes of which scientists have detected only once. These materials may be "roots" that anchor mantle plumes – narrow pipes that bridge the gap between the Earth’s crust and its super hot core. They may also be responsible for forming volcanic islands like Hawaii. See article.
g Life – Scientists have discovered giant sinking mucus "houses" that double the amount of food on the sea floor. Tadpole-like animals not much bigger than your index finger produce the mucus houses, or “sinkers.” As sinkers drop to the sea floor, small sea critters and other food particles get stuck to the mucus and end up on the bottom of the ocean. See article.
g Intelligence – Our brains hold many of the mysteries of who we are and why we do what we do. Unlocking the mystery of how exposure to violent media affects our brains is the focus of Indiana University School of Medicine research published in the May/June issue of the Journal of Computer Assisted Tomography. See article.
g Message – A while back, the BBC interviewed Ian Morison, coordinator of the Jodrell Bank SETI observations — whose job is to search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Read his interview.
g Cosmicus – ”I propose to assert that near some star rather like our sun there now exists a civilization with scientific interests and with technical possibilities much greater than those now available to us.” So began astronomer and SETI founder Philip Morrison’s famous speech, “Interstellar Communication,” before the Philosophical Society of Washington. Read the speech’s full text.
g Learning – Here’s a great book for fourth- through sixth-grade kids: “Is Anybody Out There?” by Heather Couper, Nigel Henbest and Luciano Corbella. Of the book, one reviewer wrote: “Does intelligent life exist beyond our planet? This visually exciting examination looks at both the myth and the science related to the question. The authors, both British science writers, describe what alien lifeforms might look like, how we might communicate with them, and the impact the discovery of extrasolar planets has had on the development of scientific equipment. The book is organized into 17 appealing photo-spreads, comprising color photographs, detailed captions and boxed insets that contain information about a scientist or about a historic scientific event, or suggested activities for would-be scientists. The inclusion of a "count the alien civilizations" foldout board game is a bonus.” See article.
g Imagining – If alien lifeforms did arrive on Earth, what might they look like? Contemporary images of alien lifeforms differ significantly from previous ones. See article.
g Aftermath – Would dutiful American citizens trust the government to handle first contact with extraterrestrials and rush to get information to the public? See article. Note: This article is from 1999.

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