Monday, August 15, 2005

Meteor impacts, SETA and feline aliens

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 - One of the thousands of asteroids orbiting the sun has been found to have a mini planetary system of its own. See article.
g Abodes - Meteor impacts are generally regarded as monstrous killers and one of the causes of mass extinctions throughout the history of life. But there is a chance the heavy bombardment of Earth by meteors during the planet's youth actually spurred early life on our planet, say Canadian geologists. See article.
g Life - The theory of panspermia proposes that life really gets around, jumping from planet to planet - or even from star to star. Life might be everywhere! Assuming this is true, how do single-celled bacteria make the journey through the vacuum of space? Easy, they use chunks of rock as space ships, in a process called lithopanspermia. And now, researchers from Princeton and the University of Michigan think that life carrying rocks might have been right there at the beginning of our solar system, keeping their tiny astronauts safe and sound, frozen in statis until the planets formed and the right conditions let them thaw out, stretch their proteins, and begin a process leading from microbe to mankind. See article.
g Intelligence - When people see violent or erotic images, they fail to process whatever they see next, according to new research. See article.
g Message - The Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, or SETA, is about delineating between the artificial and the real. In the case of radio detection from other stellar systems, the artificial is what is labeled the real signal that intelligent communications are on-air. See article. Note: This article is a couple of years old.
g Cosmicus - Proponents of small satellites say that tiny spacecraft have potentially big roles to play in planetary exploration. See article.
g Learning - Exobiology is the study of the origin, evolution and distribution of life in the universe. Exobiologists investigate how the formation of stars and solar systems led to the existence of planets suitable for life, how life originated on Earth and perhaps elsewhere, and which factors influenced biological evolution. The understanding of these events shapes the study of how life arises and evolves in the universe. Here’s a basic primer on what also is known as astrobiology. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology/cultures? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Mary Gentle’s “Golden Witchbreed” (1983) and “Ancient Light” (1987), which examines a culture of feline aliens.
g Aftermath - Looking for some interesting reading on “first contact”? Try the science fiction anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff. The book came out in 1997. Here’s a review (though it’s less than flattering).

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