Sunday, July 24, 2005

Millisecond pulsars, cold Mars and what really happened Oct. 31, 1938

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 - New Chandra observations give the best information yet on why millisecond pulsars are rotating so fast. The key, as in real estate, is location, location, location - in this case the crowded confines of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, where stars are less than a tenth of a light year apart. See article.
g Abodes - The current mean temperature on the equator of Mars is a blustery 69 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Scientists have long thought that the Red Planet was once temperate enough for water to have existed on the surface, and for life to possibly have evolved. But a new study by Caltech and MIT scientists gives this idea the cold shoulder. See article.
g Life - A signaling pathway required for plants to grow to their normal size appears to have an unexpected dual purpose of keeping the plant from wallpapering itself with too many densely clustered stomata. Understanding the mechanisms that control stomata patterning offers insights into such questions as how plants evolved to protect themselves when they moved from water to land. See article.
g Intelligence - Are you disgusted when you hear about Elvis Presley's fried peanut butter 'n 'nanner sandwiches? A new study shows that it could all be in your head. In fact, our taste preferences may have little to do with whether we can even recognize the substance we're eating or drinking. See article.
g Message - The Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, or SETA, is about delineating between the artificial and the real. In the case of radio detection from other stellar systems, the artificial is what is labeled the real signal that intelligent communications are on-air. See article. Note: This article is a couple of years old.
g Cosmicus - Aircraft flying over Mars and supersonic transports so quiet they can fly over land on Earth are in NASA's view of the future at Experimental Aircraft Association's AirVenture 2005, July 25-31 in Oshkosh, Wis. See article.
g Learning - Americans love science in their movies and TV shows, yet recent reports indicate we are losing our scientific dominance to the rest of the world. Can science-themed entertainment get Americans off the couch and into the lab? See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Vonda N. McIntyre’s “The Starfarers Series”: “Starfarers” (1989), “Transition” (1990), “Metaphase” (1992) and “Nautilus” (1994). In the series, a ship staffed by an international crew goes out to contact alien life. It eventually discovers dying squidmoth, which leads them into further contacts.
g Aftermath - The recent Hollywood movie “War of the Worlds” by Steven Spielberg is garnering much attention, but it's nothing like that accorded the 1938 radio version of H.G. Wells' novel. The extent of the panic that broadcast caused is still debated. So what really happened that night? See article.

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