Monday, September 12, 2005

The biological universe, what if nobody is transmitting and ‘Let’s Build an Extraterrestrial’

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 sky survey by Anglo-Australian astronomers has put forward a new calculation for the number of stars in the visible universe. Their estimate is larger than the number of sand grains on Earth. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Abodes - Scientists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have ended a nine-year debate over whether the Earth's inner core is undergoing changes that can be detected on a human timescale. Their work, which appears in the August 26 issue of the journal Science, measured differences in the time it took seismic waves generated by nearly identical earthquakes up to 35 years apart to travel through the Earth's inner core. See article.
g Life - Book alert: In such special moments as those we are living today, when hardly a few months ago repeated vestiges of extraterrestrial ancient life on Mars have been announced, Steven J. Dick’s “The Biological Universe: The Twentieth-Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of the Science” is doubly suitable, not only to update the question of the existence of other living beings in the universe, but also to examine the consequences of all kinds, social, scientific, etc., that the real presence of other creatures would mean for us. This is then a rigorous work, where its author narrates from most viewpoints and with a historical perspective, everything that has to do with extraterrestrial life and the subsequent debate developed throughout this century. See reviews.
g Intelligence - With genome maps adding new appreciation of the very close relationship between humans and the great apes, scientists at the University of California, San Diego have proposed a series of ethical and scientific guidelines for the expected increase in research on these, our closest evolutionary cousins. See article.
g Message - Whenever the director of SETI research presents a public lecture, she can almost guarantee that “What If everybody is listening and nobody is transmitting?” will be one of the questions the audience asks. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA is sending three astronauts and a Cincinnati doctor to test new space medicine concepts and extravehicular techniques in a unique underwater laboratory off the Florida coast. NASA astronaut Lee Morin leads the crew on an 18-day undersea mission Oct. 3-20 aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Aquarius Underwater Laboratory. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a good introduction to learning about the characteristics of living things is to get the kids brainstorming as to what makes a living thing living: “Glue Critters.” See lesson.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat site that draws upon the history of science fiction for examples: “Let’s Build an Extraterrestrial”.
g Aftermath Epicurus, in the fourth century BC, believed that the universe contained other worlds like our own, and since his time there has been considerable debate whether extraterrestrial life exists and might communicate with us. During the last quarter of the 20th century, an international social movement has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, CETI, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials have already been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article. Note: This article is from 1994.

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