Monday, July 11, 2005

Weighing stars, blotched planet hunting and Neanderthal genome

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 - Starlight aside, one way to distinguish between stars and planets is to have them weigh in. Stars need a hefty amount of mass to fuse hydrogen, while planets are mere dust motes in comparison. But over the past few years, astronomers have found planetary-mass objects that may have been born as stars. Called sub-brown dwarfs, these objects are blurring the line between what we think of as "stars" versus "planets." See article Note: This article is from 2003.
g Abodes - The existence of extrasolar planets has become common knowledge in the past decade. But in the mid-20th Century, the search for worlds orbiting other stars got off to a rocky start. Alan Boss, an astronomer with the Carnegie Institution of Washington, recounts the early days of extrasolar planet-hunting. See article.
g Life - Wildlife corridors - clear tracts of land intended to help maintain biodiversity by allowing animals to move between otherwise isolated natural areas - also may aid stationary plants in the same way. A study at an outdoor experimental landscape in South Carolina, has found that berry-eating bluebirds transfer more of the plants' seeds between habitats connected by corridors than between those that are unconnected. See article.
g Intelligence - German and U.S. scientists have launched a project to reconstruct the Neanderthal genome, the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said Wednesday. See article.
g Message - Although the title of “Aliens: Can We Make Contact with Extraterrestrial Intelligence?” by Andrew J. H. Clark, David H. Clark, may conjure up visions of “The X-Files,” this sensible book has more affinity with the movie “Contact.” Above all, it is a plea for continued support of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, presently conducted as the privately funded Project Phoenix due to the withdrawal of government backing. Although readers of other major books on this subject, such as the classic “Are We Alone?” by Paul Davies or the more recent “Probability One,” will be familiar with much of the material here, this is a solid primer for those new to the actual science involved in current efforts to find ETI. For reviews, see article.
g Cosmicus - NASA selected 21 space radiation research proposals for funding. Approximately $19 million will be spent on the research to support the Vision for Space Exploration. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Gravity Hurts.” In this activity, students can sample some of the sensations of space right here on Earth, using the "weightless arms" isometric exercise and a good old-fashioned headstand. See lesson.
g Imagining - Like stories about efforts to communicate with alien? Then be sure to read H. Beam Piper’s "Omnilingual" (1957), in which humanity searches for a way to decipher Martian. See reviews.
g Aftermath - Book alert: In “Cosmic Company,” Seth Shostak and Alex Barnett ponder the possibility of aliens visiting the Earth, as well as the consequences of receiving a signal from the cosmos proving we're neither alone, nor the most intelligent life forms. They explain why scientists think life might exist on other worlds, and how we might contact it. Shostak and Barnett, experienced writers of popular astronomy, provide an accessible overview of the science and technology behind the search for life in the universe. See reviews.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

No comments: