Sunday, August 07, 2005

Energetic X-rays, becoming a space activist and ‘The Last Planet’

Welcome! First-time visitors may want to read the Jan. 1 entry to gain a better understanding of the blog's format.
g Stars - Astronomers have found that the sky glows in very energetic X-rays. They think the X-rays are the last gasp of material being swallowed by massive black holes. These objects hide behind thick walls of gas and dust, walls so thick that only radio waves and very high-energy X-rays can escape. Even moderately energetic X-rays are blocked. See article.
g Abodes - Terraforming was once solely the province of science fiction. Illustrator Thierry Lombry has produced some of the most fascinating and detailed visualizations showing how the Martian landscape might be modified over hundreds or thousands of years. See article.
g Life - Researchers have obtained further evidence that one of the oldest biological laws can also be applied to bacteria living in the sump tank reservoirs of machines in an engineering workshop. See article.
g Intelligence - Book alert: In recent decades new fossil discoveries have redefined perceptions of human evolution at a remarkable pace, making it nearly impossible for the general reader to find an up-to-date account of the subject. The large-format book “From Lucy to Language,” by science writer Blake Edgar and paleoanthropologist Donald Johanson - discoverer of the famous partial skeleton of "Lucy," a female hominid who lived 3.2 million years ago - gives as complete a picture as is presently known. Much mystery remains, but the earlier view of human evolution as a linear progression from apes through the hominids to the various homo species has been replaced by a more treelike analogue, one with many branches of upright-walking hominids. Truly a photo album of hominid history, the volume includes more than 200 color pictures of the major fossil discoveries, each with explanatory text. See review.
g Message - It has become somewhat accepted that an extrasolar contact could be interpreted as a good “artificial” signal if it arose from certain branches of mathematics. If another galactic civilization decided to reach us, they would send a beacon of bleeps akin to the digits of “pi” or only prime numbers, because they would realize that no natural process could mimic them. Renowned author and MacArthur “genius” award winner, Stephen Wolfram, argues for a new kind of science, and argues that the line between “artificial” and “natural” signals is not nearly so clear as first supposed. See article. Note: This article is from March 2004.
g Cosmicus - Anyone can be a good space activist. It is also easy to do. It takes a little bit of time, occasionally costs a little money but most of all is the desire to make a difference. If you fit these criteria, then you are ready to start down a fun and exciting path. See article.
g Learning - There may be numerous intelligent civilizations on planets throughout our galaxy. That's the hypothesis driving SETI research. We seek evidence of extraterrestrial technology using optical and radio telescopes to search for signals that emanate from other civilized worlds. These places are far, far away. But, when discussing the search with school children, they often simply ask, "Why don't we just go there?" This can be a teachable moment. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Imagining -Like stories about alien biologies and environments? Scour your bookstore for Andre Norton’s “The Last Planet” (1953), famous for the birdman or “The Beast Master” (1959), famous for the lizard men.
g Aftermath - Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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