Monday, August 08, 2005

Moon’s nitrogen, leaving no child behind on evolution and extremophiles on Venus

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 - Sol's three closest stellar neighbors are located in the southeastern corner of Constellation Centaurus. Learn more about Alpha Centauri here.
g Abodes - Scientists speculated today on a solution to a longstanding mystery of why the Moon is overloaded with nitrogen. It came from Earth, they say. See article.
g Life - The development of bone structures in alligator eggs raised under varying oxygen concentrations creates a link to fossil records of the evolution of vertebrates and prehistoric atmospheric oxygen concentrations, according to a paper to be presented at the Earth System Processes 2 meeting in Alberta, Canada. See article.
g Intelligence - If someone told you to "put the apple in the basket on the table," what would you do? Depending on how many apples and baskets are in your kitchen, it might not be clear. Would you move the apple in the basket to the table, or move the apple to the basket on the table? Had the speaker included the word "that's" after the word "apple," it would have eliminated any confusion. See article.
g Message - Want to get a sense of SETI’s history and varying projects? Jodrell Bank Observatory offers an easy to follow yet informative primer.
g Cosmicus - For many years people have asked the ever so important question, "Why Mars - why should we go to Mars?" For every individual who ponders this question there is a unique response. There is no correct answer to the conundrum and there is no single best answer either. Everyone must challenge their own intellect and form their own opinions on why, or why not, which brings about the focus of this rant. The driving question for those of us already dedicated to human space exploration should not be "Why Mars", but rather "What?" Mars. As in, what will you do to help set the human race on the path to Mars? It is as cliché as "everyone has to do their part" and as direct as John F. Kennedy’s famous speech "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." See article.
g Learning - Evolution is fundamental to modern biology, geology and astronomy. Ignoring or discarding fundamental scientific understandings of the natural world does not prepare our children well for the future. As America strives to "leave no child behind," it’s time that evolution is not left behind in our science classrooms. See article.
g Imagining - Venus's battery-acid clouds might very well support microbial life - like the "extremophile" microorganisms that Earth scientists have found thriving near volcano outflows. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Aftermath - If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose and learn about the thinking behind them.

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