Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Elusive neutron star, understanding zero, and estimating the odds

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 - An international team has uncovered a rare type of neutron star so elusive that it took three satellites to identify it. See article.
g Abodes - The nearest, youngest star with dusty debris disk - the stuff from which planets form - has been found by Berkeley and Hawaii astronomers a mere 33 light-years away. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Life - A University of Florida study has found that mutations in the mitochondria caused by obesity and lack of exercise - not oxidative stress from free radicals - may be a key factor in the aging process. See article.
g Intelligence - During the course of human evolution, our ancestors eventually grasped the abstract concept of counting nothing, or '”zero.” Is this a unique component of human intelligence? Or does one of the most sophisticated abstractions discovered yet among animals tell us anything about the evolution of intelligence, on Earth or elsewhere? See article.
g Cosmicus - Join this community of students and space aficionados who are working together to plan a manned mission to Mars. The academy's online "courses" are free, and dedicated participants can earn a "Mars Expert" degree. See article.
g Learning - How many extraterrestrial civilizations exist in our galaxy? Frank Drake's now-famous equation makes an educated guess. Check out this video on the topic and make your own guess. Click here and look for “Multimedia.”
g Imagining - Like stories about efforts to communicate with aliens? Then be sure to read Frank Herbert’s “Whipping Star” (1970). See review.
g Aftermath - The good news is that polls continue to show that between one and two-thirds of the public thinks that extraterrestrial life exists. The weird news is that a similar fraction think that some of it is visiting Earth. See article.

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