Monday, June 06, 2005

Vanishing Arctic lakes, the Search for Extraterrestrial Eukaryotes and silicon-based life

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 – Two astronomers have used NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory to discover a shell of superheated gas around a dying star in the Milky Way galaxy. The discovery shows how material ejected at 2 million miles per hour during the final, dying stages of sun-like stars can heat previously ejected gas to the point where it will emit X-rays. See article.
g Abodes – A new study finds 125 large lakes in the Arctic have vanished as temperatures rose over the past two decades. Many other lakes have shrunk. See article.
g Life – Should scientists develop a “Search for Extraterrestrial Eukaryotes” program? See article.
g Intelligence – Amateur observers and scholars alike have remarked that older people often have more intense and complex emotional lives than their younger cohorts. What accounts for the difference, wondered psychologist Ursina Teuscher: Wisdom gained with the gathering years? A shift in values thanks to greater life experience? Or, is it a keener sense of time — a precious and, of necessity, diminishing resource? See article.
g Message – What do the Pioneer plaques that carry messages to extraterrestrials look like and say? See article.
g Cosmicus – According to a new paper, traversable wormholes and time machines cannot be both stable and predictable. Albert Einstein and Nathan Rosen published the first scientific paper on wormholes (also called Einstein-Rosen bridges) in 1935, describing how it might be possible for two distant regions of space-time to be connected through a tunnel-like spatial shortcut. See article.
g Learning – Here’s a neat classroom activity courtesy of “Extraterrestrials.” In the activity, a digital radio message, intended to alert any intelligent life in space to the existence of intelligent life on Earth, has been electronically transmitted into space by the Arecibo radio dish in Puerto Rico. Students must ensure the message is effective by showing that the senders (humans from Earth) are capable of advanced thinking — but it must not depend on the ability of extraterrestrials to understand any Earth language. See article.
g Imagining – Could silicon be the basis for alien life forms, just as carbon is on Earth? See article.
g Aftermath – How might we characterize the political significance of any announcement of discovering extraterrestrial intelligence? How about using the Torino Scale, which characterizes asteroid impacts, as a model to assist the discussion and interpretation of any claimed discovery of ETI? See article.

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