Monday, July 04, 2005

Mars Organic Analyzer, space shade for Earth and Deep Impact mission succeeds

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 - When a binary star system starts to transfer mass, one of the twins may well win out, leaving its companion to occupy a strange region half way between a star and a planet. A new star-type of this sort has been found, which resembles the infrared ash of a stillborn star. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Abodes - A wild idea to combat global warming suggests creating an artificial ring of small particles or spacecrafts around Earth to shade the tropics and moderate climate extremes. See article. For related story, see "Warmer Air May Cause Increased Antarctic Sea Ice Cover”.
g Life - The dry, dusty, treeless expanse of Chile's Atacama Desert is the most lifeless spot on the face of the Earth, and that's why Alison Skelley and Richard Mathies joined a team of NASA scientists there earlier this month. The University of California-Berkeley, scientists knew that if the Mars Organic Analyzer they'd built could detect life in that crusty, arid land, then it would have a good chance some day of detecting life on the planet Mars. See article.
g Intelligence - The human brain anticipates unimportant sensations, such as your own touch, so it can focus on important input like, say, a tarantula crawling up your neck. The results might explain why it's hard to tickle yourself, scientists said today. See article.
g Message - Today, it is widely recognized that the “contact pessimists” have a rather strong position; most of recent scholarly monographs on the subject are strongly skeptical towards the possibility of finding complex intelligent life elsewhere (e.g. Ward and Brownlee). Why is that so? See article.
g Cosmicus - The Deep Impact mission proceeded exactly as planned, with the impactor spacecraft smashing into the sunlit side of comet Tempel 1. See article. For additional stories and video, click here.
g Learning - Does math get easier when you use small numbers? In the classroom activity “Mega-Micro Math,” students measure small items and compare their sizes to microbes. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Almost the most influential in science fiction were those in E. Doc. Smith’s Lensman Series (1934-50) in which he developed a 4-letter classification system for alien types. For more, see article.
g Aftermath - Book alert: “Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life, and the Theological Implications, by Steven J. Dick (editor), is a provocative collection examining science's impact on theology. Based on a 1998 conference sponsored by the Templeton Foundation, this collection of essays opens with the observation that the Copernican revolution looks insignificant when compared to the discoveries made about the earth and the universe in the last century: we now know, for example, that the universe is billions (not thousands) of light-years big; that it is expanding, not static; that our galaxy is just one of many, not the entirety of the universe. But from looking at modern theology, you wouldn't think anything had changed. The contributors (who include physicists, philosophers, historians of science, and theologians) suggest that cosmological advances might reshape the very fundamentals of theology. See article.

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