Saturday, July 30, 2005

Using sound waves to find life, spaceflight anxiety and ‘The Listeners’

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 - Which came first, galaxies or the supermassive black holes at their center? Most cosmologists now think the two are inextricably linked, each depending on the other. And according to researchers, including famed astronomer Sir Martin J. Rees, these supermassive black holes got big, fast. By reviewing quasar data in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the team has calculated that many supermassive black holes had reached 1 billion times the mass of our Sun in a very short period of time. Even for the largest, most voracious black holes in the universe, that's an amazing feat. See article.
g Abodes - Conceived by scientists at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., the Neutron/Gamma ray Geologic Tomography would be able to generate three-dimensional images of fossils embedded in an outcrop of rock or beneath the soil of Mars or another planet. Tomography uses radiation or sound waves to look inside objects. NUGGET could help determine if primitive forms of life took root on Mars when the planet was awash in water eons ago. See article.
g Life - Volunteers in Montana have announced they currently are working to uncover what is believed to be a never-before-seen species of sauropod dinosaur, perhaps about twice as old as most dinosaur fossils found in the state. See article. For related story, see “Fossil poachers find easy pickings on federal lands”.
g Intelligence - Ever enter a strange hallway or an unfamiliar street after being inside and have trouble getting your bearings? A new study suggests a way to battle the problem by changing habits early in life. See article.
g Message - Forget waiting for ET to call — the most likely place to find an alien message is in our DNA, according to an expert in Australia. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - The return to flight mission of space shuttle Discovery – and subsequent grounding of the shuttle fleet – has spurred anxiety regarding the future of NASA’s human spaceflight programs. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Life on the Edge.” The lesson plans examine the question, “Is there life on other planets in our solar system? No one knows, but if there is it's probably a microorganism that thrives in extreme environments. In this episode students will follow a dog sled team to a high mountain peak, make "Planets in a Bottle," and learn more about nature's extremophiles. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about communicating with aliens? Scour a used bookstore for James Gunn’s “The Listeners” (1972).
g Aftermath - Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See article.

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