Thursday, July 21, 2005

Exception to the rule, living in the Dead Sea and ‘Contact’

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 - Every rule has an exception. One rule in astronomy, supported by considerable evidence, states that dust disks around newborn stars disappear in a few million years. Most likely, they vanish because the material has collected into full-sized planets. Astronomers have discovered the first exception to this rule - a 25-million-year-old dust disk that shows no evidence of planet formation. See article.
g Abodes - Last August, two groups of scientists announced the discovery of the smallest extrasolar planets found to date. But just what are these Neptune-size worlds? Are they gas giants, ice giants, or oversized Earths? Astronomer Alan Boss examines the possibilities. See article.
g Life - How have the molecules essential to life, such as proteins, adapted to function in extreme environments? The proteins that may help answer this question have been isolated from halophilic (salt-loving) microorganisms from the Dead Sea. So what's living in the Dead Sea anyway? See article.
g Intelligence - The insertion of human stem cells into monkey brains runs a "real risk" of altering the animals' abilities in ways that might make them more like us, scientists said last week. See article.
g Message - To subject the Fermi Paradox to needed experimental testing, a researcher has offered the Artifact Hypothesis: A technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization has undertaken a long-term program of' interstellar exploration via transmission of material artifacts. article.
g Cosmicus - As the 21st century gets underway, the impact of space activities upon the welfare of humanity will only increase. See article.
g Learning - Splat! There goes another bug on the windshield. But wait, before you scrape off that disgusting mess, look carefully - there's an astronomy lesson in there! See “Horse Flies and Meteors” at article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Carl Sagan’s “Contact” (1985). See article.
g Aftermath - When an alien lands on the White House lawn, who should greet him (her? it?): Someone from the Immigration and Naturalization Service or someone from the Fish and Wildlife Commission? What legal rights would an extraterrestrial have? See article. Note: This article is from 1977, but the issue has been thought about very little.

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