Sunday, July 31, 2005

New Millennium Program's Space Technology 9 Project and exopsychology

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 - Interstellar travelers might want to detour around the star system TW Hydrae to avoid a messy planetary construction site. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomers have discovered that the gaseous protoplanetary disk surrounding TW Hydrae holds vast swaths of pebbles extending outward for at least 1 billion miles. These rocky chunks should continue to grow in size as they collide and stick together until they eventually form planets. See article.
g Abodes - NASA's Cassini spacecraft has obtained new, detailed images of the south polar region of Saturn's moon Enceladus. The data reveal distinctive geological features and the most youthful terrain seen on the moon. These findings point to a very complex evolutionary history for Saturn's brightest, whitest satellite. See article.
g Life - An international team that includes researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, has discovered that mammalian chromosomes have evolved by breaking at specific sites rather than randomly as long thought - and that many of the breakage hotspots are also involved in human cancer. See article.
g Intelligence - Scientists have zeroed in on an answer to why we remember traumatic events better than the mundane. See article.
g Message - In 2001, California astronomers broadened the search for extraterrestrial intelligence with a new experiment to look for powerful light pulses beamed our way from other star systems. Scientists from the University of California's Lick Observatory, the SETI Institute, UC-Santa Cruz, and UC-Berkeley used the Lick Observatory's 40-inch Nickel Telescope with a new pulse-detection system capable of finding laser beacons from civilizations many light-years distant. Unlike other optical SETI searches, this new experiment is largely immune to false alarms that slow the reconnaissance of target stars. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA's Science Mission Directorate has selected 11 technology investigators as part of the New Millennium Program's Space Technology 9 Project, including solar sails, precision formation flying of spacecraft and descent guidance for pinpoint landings on other worlds. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Our Sun’s Sizzling Corona.” Imagine walking away from a blazing fireplace and feeling warmer as you get further from the fire. It defies common sense. Nevertheless, that's what happens in the Sun's atmosphere. In this episode students learn about one of the Sun's greatest mysteries and find out what Baked Alaska has to do with our star. See article.
g Imagining - Ever wondered how all those traditional space-opera and epic-fantasy races - the pig-faced warriors, the smug bumheads, and all the rest - came up with their wonderfully clich├ęd alien vocabularies? It's not difficult; once you've mastered these basic rules, you'll be able to produce names and phrases just as stereotypical as theirs. See article.
g Aftermath - The next social science to be created might be "exopsychology" — the study of behavior, attitudes, personalities and thoughts of alien beings. Although necessarily speculative, exopsychology might eventually be a critical link between humans and aliens. In the meantime, such a study could also provide the additional benefit of informing us about earthbound prejudices. See article.

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