Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Neon stars, salt-loving life and contact pessimists

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 Sun likely contains nearly three times more neon than previously thought, according to a new study. The finding, if shown to be accurate, solves a theoretical problem regarding how stars in general work. See article.
g Abodes - On Earth, methane is mostly produced by life. The recent detection of methane in the Martian atmosphere therefore has given rise to much speculation about the possibility for life on the Red Planet. Part three of this four-part series investigates the most likely scenario for producing methane on Mars. See article.
g Life - During the last few decades we have come to realize that where there is liquid water on Earth, virtually no matter what the physical conditions, no matter where, there is life. What we previously imagined were insurmountable physical and chemical barriers to life, such as extremes in temperature, pH and radiation, are now seen as yet another niche harboring so-called "extremophiles." This realization, coupled with new data on the survival of microbes in the space environment, as well as modeling of the potential for transfer of life between planets, suggests that life could be more common than previously thought. See article.
g Intelligence - A rose by any other name may smell just as sweet, but tilt it at an unexpected angle and it may still be easy to smell, just not recognize. That is, unless you saw another object — even an unrelated one — presented at the same angle. 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 House of Representatives on Friday overwhelmingly endorsed President Bush's vision to send man back to the moon and eventually on to Mars as it passed a bill to set NASA policy for the next two years. 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 - Here’s a neat Web site that examines the life cycle of the Alien — the extraterrestrial from said movie. It’s a little light on evolutionary speculation and discussing plausibility, but the life cycle is thoroughly described.
g Aftermath - In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

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