Thursday, July 07, 2005

Our own crop circles, Red Planet farmers and ‘The Dark Light Years’

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 - Applied physicists at the California Institute of Technology have devised a plasma experiment that shows how huge long, thin jets of material shoot out from exotic astrophysical objects such as young stars, black holes and galactic nuclei. See article.
g Abodes - Industrial and auto pollution could turn Earth's oceans so acidic by the end of this century that the entire marine world will be threatened, a new report warns. See article.
g Life - Researchers have gained intriguing quantitative insights into how gene families are transferred, not only “vertically'” through passage from one organism to its progeny, but also “horizontally” through the exchange of genetic material between distantly related organisms. This new view of the tree of life could help us to better understand how disease-causing bacteria manage to stay one step ahead of us in our battle to tackle antibiotic resistance. See article.
g Intelligence - British scientists claimed on Tuesday to have unearthed 40,000 year-old human footprints in central Mexico, challenging previous studies that put the arrival of the first humans in the Americas at about 13,500 years ago. See article.
g Message - The modern pop phenomenon of crop circles, which carve messages into mowing patterns, is not new: The great mathematician, Carl Friedrich Gauss, first proposed such a bold move for plowing a few Siberian forests. See article.
g Cosmicus - Will human beings ever live on Mars? If that should come to pass scientists are telling us that the first settlers on the Red Planet will have to be farmers. Check out this audio program from “Pulse of the Planet,” at article. Note: This program was broadcast in winter 2000.
g Learning -Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Having a Ball on Mars.” A funny accident in the Mojave Desert has inspired a new kind of Mars rover - a two-story high beach ball that can descend to the Martian surface and explore vast expanses of the Red Planet. In this lesson, which reinforces creative thinking and the scientific method, students design and test their own Mars Balls. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Be sure to read Brian Aldiss’ 1964 classic novel “The Dark Light Years.” For a review, see article.
g Aftermath - Comparing the task presented to a stellar communicator to the reasoning why past civilizations have prepared for posterity, one considers whether SETI lays the groundwork for future archaeology. Why did our terrestrial ancestors prepare relics like the Rosetta Stone? See article.

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