Sunday, August 28, 2005

Bipolar year, X-15 astronauts and ‘Cosmic Company’

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 - With the help of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have conducted the most comprehensive structural analysis of our galaxy and have found tantalizing new evidence that the Milky Way is much different from your ordinary spiral galaxy. See article.
g Abodes - Pamela Conrad, an astrobiologist with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, has traveled to the ends of the Earth to study life. On June 16, Conrad gave a lecture entitled, "A Bipolar Year: What We Can Learn About Looking for Life on Other Planets by Working in Cold Deserts." In part 1 of this edited transcript, Conrad describes what sort of signs we could look for to see if there is life in an alien environment. See article.
g Life - It's an amazing, electrifying, even terrifying feeling: Stare into a starry night sky and ask yourself if someone, or something, might be staring back. Just the thought is enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. But even now, after centuries of wondering, and decades of actively looking, humans still don’t know the answer. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Intelligence - Researchers at Stanford University have demonstrated a promising, minimally invasive optical technique that can capture micron-scale images from deep in the brains of live subjects. See article.
g Message - Recent discussions within the SETI community have thoroughly explored the issue of whether people with access to radio telescopes should send powerful signals to alien civilizations without some process of prior international consultation. In particular, those exchanges have focused on the question of "Active SETI." See article.
g Cosmicus - In a turbulent era of 1960s Cold War confrontations, moon race headlines, and war in southeast Asia, eight military and civilian test pilots flew the radical X-15 rocket plane out of the atmosphere and into the record books, earning astronaut status. See article.
g Learning -The company that contracts to run the sprawling Kennedy Space Center visitor complex will soon give tourists an opportunity to experience a shuttle launch for themselves. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for the late Poul Anderson’s “The Byworlder” (1971), which examines metazoans, linked cilia and radial lifeforms.
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.

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