Sunday, July 03, 2005

Photosynthesis where the sun don’t shine, aliens tuning into ‘I Love Lucy’ and The Age of Planets

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 - Hyperfast, exotic streams of gas that have been observed shooting from black holes behave like lines of speeding cars that suddenly encounter heavy traffic, new lab work shows. See article.
g Abodes - Some scientists think it may be possible to detect planets beyond our solar system by looking for radio signals generated by the same forces that lead to auroras or “Northern Lights.” A team of scientists working on a radio telescope called the Low Frequency Array plan to do just that, by trying to tune in to other worlds. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Life - Scientists have discovered the first organism known to rely on photosynthesis in a place where the sun never shines. See article.
g Intelligence - Whether it's a halved grapefruit sprinkled with sugar, mandarin slices tumbled in a green salad, mouth-puckering lemon wedges or a classic navel orange, there are probably enough kinds of citrus to satisfy any personality or taste. But scientists with the Agricultural Research Service in Riverside, Calif., who recently assessed their extensive collection of citrus species from around the world, have found that despite the long list of seemingly distinct and different citrus fruits, the majority of those most familiar to us are hybrids that got their start from just a handful of wild citrus species. See article.
g Message - The Earth is at the center of an expanding bubble of electromagnetic radiation. The bubble, expanding at the speed of light, contains all of the man-made electromagnetic transmissions of the earth - radio, TV, radar, and so on. In theory, an alien civilization could receive these signals, and form their opinion about the earth by analyzing them. To most people, it is quite discouraging to think that some alien civilization would form their opinion of Earth based upon our situation comedies. Upon a slightly deeper analysis, the conventional wisdom says, “Aliens might detect our TV signals, but at least they can't form their opinion of our civilization from our TV transmissions. Decoding the transmission is so much harder than detecting it that we don't need to worry about this.” But an editor of the book “SETI 2020” argues that this view considerably underestimates the technologies that aliens might employ. By looking at likely technical improvements - better receivers and feeds, bigger antenna, signal processing, and perhaps stellar focusing, any civilization that can detect our radiations might well be able to decode it as well. Thus aliens can form their impression of Earth from “I Love Lucy.” See article.
g Cosmicus - You don't want to hang around in orbit when Imperial Destroyers are on the way. NASA scientists don't have a hyperdrive - yet - but they are looking at unusual propulsion concepts, from sails and tethers, to fusion and everyone's favorite, antimatter. See article and followup. Note: These articles are form 1999.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Ice Rafting on Europa.” This lesson explores how ice rafts form on the surface of Europa. Students find out by making ice rafts in the teacher's lounge refrigerator. See article.
g Imagining - Ben Bova, the prolific author of science fiction novels such as "Mars" and "Jupiter," studies the science and politics of astrobiology in his newest book, "Faint Echoes, Distant Stars." In this exclusive interview with Astrobiology Magazine, Bova shares his thoughts about astrobiology, space travel, and the discoveries of the future. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Aftermath - We live in a new age of discovery, the first days of a new renaissance. It is the dawn of the age of planets. See article.

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