Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Solar nebula’s lifetime, extreme lifeforms and social dynamics of friendly 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 - The oxygen and magnesium content of some of the oldest objects in the universe are giving clues to the lifetime of the solar nebula, the mass of dust and gas that eventually led to the formation of our solar system. See article.
g Abodes - While volcanologists can see the dome of the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat grow and collapse, it takes instrumentation to delve beneath the surface. Now, Penn State geologists, using tiltmeter measurements, have investigated a shallow area under the dome and what they found was not quite what they expected. See article.
g Life - The relentless heat cooks the Badwater region of California's Death Valley so thoroughly that some expanses are textured like dry serpent skin. At some 284 feet below sea level-North America's lowest point-it is perhaps the hottest place on the surface of the earth: the temperature once peaked at a record 53.01 degrees Celsius (127. 4 degrees Fahrenheit). Out here, blood-pumping mammals are scarce. It may seem unfitting to find a Nobel Prize winner, renowned for hepatitis B work, in this scorching pit. But Baruch Blumberg's latest challenge takes him beyond human subjects. As the first director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute, he is searching for extreme lifeforms, the kind the space agency aims to someday find on other worlds. See article. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Intelligence - It takes a lot more than testosterone to make a father out of a man. See article.
g Message - Non-professional involvement in SETI science, which is encouraged by the nonprofit SETI League, Inc., increases the opportunity for the perpetration of hoaxes. The SETI League has already been peripherally involved in three separate false claims of ETI contact. Two were simple cases of mistaken identity, easily rectified. But the third was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by an Internet hacker who broke into a closed signal verification e-mail list. Such claims call for a prompt but measured response, so as not to subject the SETI community to charges of complicity in conspiracy or cover-up activities. In this presentation SETI League Executive Director H. Paul Shuch explores the dilemma of encouraging grass-roots participation, while avoiding association with fraudulent and pseudo-scientific claims. See article. Note: This article is from 1999.
g Cosmicus - Humankind's aspiration for exploring the infinite world of space has led to a new breed of larger telescope, currently under construction right on a college campus. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “How Much Do You Weigh on Distant Planets?” In this activity, students study the effects of gravity on the planets of the solar system. See article.
g Imagining - Here’s an interesting critical examination of science fiction aliens that’s worth reading: John Huntington’s "Discriminating Among Friends: The Social Dynamics of the Friendly Aliens," in “Aliens: The Anthropology of Science Fiction," George E. Slusser, ed., 1987). It includes a discussion of Weinbaum's classic short story "Martian Odyssey."
g Aftermath Humans live and die by approximations. We are seldom as perfect or as accurate as we would like to be. And as we contemplate what we might say to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, maybe that's a point we should emphasize. See article.

Get your SF book manuscript edited

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

No comments: