Friday, July 22, 2005

Extrasolar planets, 550 million year-old fossils and God creating aliens

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 Sloan Digital Sky Survey is entering a new phase with new goals. SDSS is already the most ambitious astronomical survey project ever undertaken. During its five years of operation, the 300-plus scientists in the SDSS consortium have mapped galaxies, stars and quasars by the hundreds of millions over a large swath of sky. Now, with new partners and a new round of funding, the SDSS team is ramping up in a new way. See article.
g Abodes - In the past decade, more than 130 extrasolar planets have been discovered. Almost all have been found using a technique that measures tiny changes in a star's radial velocity, the speed of its motion relative to Earth. Astronomer Alan Boss tells the story how the first of these discoveries came about. See article.
g Life - A research team from Virginia Tech and Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology in China has discovered uniquely well-preserved fossils form from 550 million year old rocks of the Ediacaran Period. See article.
g Intelligence - Everyone knows money can't buy happiness, and a new study suggests brains won't guarantee it, either. See article.
g Message - While advanced civilizations might be tempted to use optical means such as lasers to send information between the stars, there are some good reasons that nearly all the major Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence experiments are looking for radio waves instead. See article.
g Cosmicus - China's next manned space endeavor could occur as early as October, according to state media reports. The mission would come two years after the first Chinese piloted flight. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat interactive Web site for kids: “Are Humans All Alone in the Universe?” In the program, kids get to search for ET — and learn some principles of science along the way. See article.
g Imagining - Watch the film "Alien vs. Predator” and you might feel there was little left to lose in seeing "Exorcist: The Beginning". As it happens, both movies, although undeniably bad, are thought provoking. Humans have a longstanding fascination with powerful, malevolent entities, whether extraterrestrial or supernatural, and the existence of such entities, however farfetched in its cinematic presentation, is a fair topic for inquiry and speculation. See article.
g Aftermath - The discovery that alien life exists would mean that we are not the center of the universe. While most religions now recognize that the Earth is just a lump of rock, they still believe that we human beings are the most important thing in creation, that we occupy a special place in God's plan. The existence of aliens would seem to make this implausible especially if they are more advanced than we are (on all levels, intellectually, spiritually). This would mean that God has acted in the development of the aliens in a way he did not act in ours, which in turn would mean that we do not occupy the paramount role in God's creation. See article.

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