Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Where rocky planets form, first contact scenarios and survey on support for CETI

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 – The most detailed measurements to date of the dusty disks around young stars confirm a new theory that the region where rocky planets such as Earth form is much farther away from the star than originally thought. See article.
g Abodes – Predicting when large earthquakes might occur may be a step closer to reality, thanks to a new study of undersea earthquakes in the eastern Pacific Ocean. The study, reported in today's Nature, is the first to suggest that small seismic shocks or foreshocks preceding a major earthquake can be used in some cases to predict the main tremors. See article.
g Life – Scientists have long marveled over the dance of the bee. A little jitterbug seems to reveal to coworkers the location of a distant meal. But how and whether the dance really works has remained controversial. A new study confirms the dancing is a form of communication. See article.
g Intelligence – Subliminal images of smiling faces may make consumers more willing to try new things, new research suggests. See article.
g Message – Researchers writing in a recent issue of Nature argue that radio signals are not the most efficient way of alerting an extraterrestrial intelligence to our existence — and that anyone out there who is trying to send out a similar message is likely to have reached the same conclusion. Here’s a downloadable NPR report on the conclusions. Note: The radio report is from 2004.
g Cosmicus – Following 60 days of “bedrest” simulating the effects of weightlessness on the body, the first volunteers in the Women International Space Simulation for Exploration study have been getting back on their feet. They all speak of having had a wonderfully enriching experience both in scientific and human terms. A press conference attended by those in charge of the study and volunteers is to be held on June 2. See article.
g Learning – The field of exobiology entails many different disciplines. Physicists, biologists and chemists are just a few of the types of occupations in exobiology. Indeed, exobiology is one of the most inter-disciplinary fields in the realm of science. With so many different types of jobs, exobiology is a fascinating field to work in, and because it is relatively new, it will be thriving for a long time to come. See article.
g Imagining – There’s a good summary of ways science fiction writers and astronomers have proposed for communicate with extraterrestrials during first contact. See article.
g Aftermath – Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence depends as much upon social support for the project as upon appropriate engineering design and upon the actual existence of a nearby extrasolar civilization. The results of a sociological survey of 1,465 American college students provide the first detailed analysis of the social and ideological factors that influence support for CETI, thereby suggesting ways that support might be increased. Linked to the most idealistic goals of the space program, notably interplanetary colonization, enthusiasm for CETI is little affected by attitudes toward technology or militarism. Few sciences or scholarly fields encourage CETI, with the exceptions of anthropology and astronomy. Support is somewhat greater among men than among women, but the sex difference is far less than in attitudes toward space flight in general. Evangelical Protestantism, represented by the "Born Again" movement, strongly discourages support for CETI. Just as exobiology begins with an understanding of terrestrial biology, exosociology on the question of how interstellar contact can be achieved should begin with serious sociological study of factors operating on our own world. See article.

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