Friday, August 26, 2005

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, phoning home intergalactically and ‘Ringworld’

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 - A University of Toronto scientist has found unexpectedly young material in meteorites — a discovery that breaks open current theory on the earliest events of the solar system. See article.
g Abodes - The much-anticipated Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter mission has launched astrobiologists on their next phase of their exploration of the Red Planet. See article.
g Life - Scientists have yearned to understand how the chirps and warbles of a young bird morph into the recognizable and very distinct melodies of its parents. Neuroscientists at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT now have come one step closer to understanding that process. They've shown for the first time how a particular brain region in birds serves as the source of vocal creativity. See article.
g Intelligence - A few simple but important steps that have led to the manufacture of radio telescopes. In human evolution, the development of facilities and fire was critical in the establishment of a metal technology. Adequate resources derived from agriculture were essential for the development of advanced technology. At all stages, the ratio of cost to reward had to be small and the technological development had to follow an appropriate cultural preadaptation. Play would unquestionably have been important in technological innovation. The history of toys has yet to be written, but it may be a key to an understanding of the progressive development of human technology. See article.
g Message - Phoning home intergalactically may have one natural prerequisite if a civilization is hoping to connect: timing their precursor signal or 'ring' so that we might know that they're broadcasting. Dr. Robin Corbet, of the Universities' Space Research Association discusses his research findings on Synchronized SETI. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Cosmicus - Who can resist the poetry of Humanity’s Timeless Outward Urge? Space is the endless frontier, we say—it’s in our genes. It’s the next inevitable step in evolution. It’s our species-level insurance against global disasters. It’s the spread of life and intelligence from a pale blue dot to the 99.9… percent of the cosmos that isn’t Earth. Throw the bone, cue the music, match dissolve to orbit: Thank you, Mr. Kubrick. See article.
g Learning - At a time when industrial, academic, and business leaders are calling for more American students to train in engineering, mathematics, science and technology, we need to teach science in science classrooms. Let’s teach the scientific ideas that are supported by overwhelming evidence such as gravitation, relativity, quantum mechanics, and evolution. Creationist ideas/beliefs, such as intelligent design, don’t belong in science classrooms. In our haste to leave no child behind, let’s not leave science behind either. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies/environments? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” (1970) and the sequel, “Ringworld Engineers” (1980).
g Aftermath A wide variety of steps should be taken to help the social sciences increase their visibility, status and contribution within the SETI field. The impact of social scientists will be profound if they contribute fresh ideas about the nature of ETI and how to detect it, bold insights into the variety of human reactions if the search succeeds, and far- sighted scenarios of humanity’s eventual relations with extraterrestrial intelligence. The quality of their thought, the ingenuity of their research designs and the depth of their findings will, in the long run, be particularly significant factors in their contribution to the SETI field. See article.

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