Thursday, July 28, 2005

Galaxy’s youthful glow, facial motion and biogeosciences

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 - A new image from NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer shows that a galaxy once thought to be rather plain and old is actually endowed with a gorgeous set of young spiral arms. The unusual galaxy, called NGC 4625, is a remarkable find because it is relatively nearby. Until now, astronomers had thought that this kind of youthful glow in galaxies was a thing of the past. See article.
g Abodes - The rivers of South America's Amazon basin are "breathing" far harder - and cycling the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide far faster - than anyone realized. Most of the carbon being exhaled as carbon dioxide from Amazonian rivers and wetlands has spent a mere five years sequestered in the trees, plants and soils of the surrounding landscape, researchers report in the July 28 issue of the journal Nature. See article.
g Life - Grass stretches as far as the eye can see across the U.S. Great Plains, and more than 100 species of grasshoppers live in the swaying fronds. But one plains-dwelling grasshopper species prefers trees. See article.
g Intelligence - New research indicates that facial motion — seeing the range of movement in the arching of an eyebrow or the curve of a smile — is in fact an extremely important part of what makes subtle facial expressions identifiable. See article.
g Message - By 2010 we will know if nearby planets are inhabited. That's the amazing claim that Stuart Clark - director of public astronomy education at the University of Hertfordshire - makes in his thought-provoking book, “Life on Other Worlds and How to Find It.” See reviews.
g Cosmicus - The International Space Station and the fictional Venus Equilateral Station (from a 1942 story by George O. Smith) have a problem in common - a failure of the "air plant." See article.
g Learning - A new section of the Journal of Geophysical Research will focus on biogeosciences of the Earth system in the past, present and future and its applicability to planetary studies. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology and cultures? Scour your used bookstore or local library for Robert Holdstock’s “Eye Among the Blind” (1976), in which an anthropologist becomes identified with an alien culture.
g Aftermath - In the last quarter of the twentieth century, an international social movement — Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence — has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials already have been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article.

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