Thursday, September 22, 2005

Dark matter galaxy, follow the water and searching for extraterrestrial probes

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 detection of a super massive black hole without a massive host galaxy is the surprising result from a large Hubble and VLT study of quasars. This is the first convincing discovery of such an object. One intriguing explanation is that the host galaxy may be made almost exclusively of dark matter. See article.
g Abodes - Astrobiologist Jack Farmer’s attention is often focused on Mars. Farmer is a longtime member of a community of scientists working to understand both the geologic history of Mars and the planet's potential to support life. At the recent Earth System Processes II conference, Farmer gave a talk on the current state of understanding about Mars: what we know and what we'd like to know. In this, the first of a three-part series, he explains why "following the water" is central to NASA's program of Mars exploration. See article.
g Life - A fossil record of the Tiger Salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) shows population-wide changes in body size and morphology in response to climate change over the last 3,000 years. The observed changes offer predictions about the response of the species to future climate change, and the impact on the ecosystem. The research is published in the open access journal, BMC Ecology. See article.
g Intelligence - New research finds the human immune system has foregone evolutionary changes that would allow it to produce better antibodies in less time because the improved antibodies would be far more likely to attack the body's own tissues. The Rice University study finds the immune system has evolved a near-perfect balance for producing antibodies that are both effective against pathogens and unlikely to cause autoimmune disease. See article.
g Message - Interstellar spacecraft are superior to electromagnetic wave propagation for extrasolar exploration and communication. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence should include a search for extraterrestrial probes. See article. Note: This article is from 1983.
g Cosmicus - The U.S. Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would clear the way for NASA to buy the Russian Soyuz vehicles it needs to continue to occupy the International Space Station beyond this year. See article.
g Imagining - If alien lifeforms did arrive on Earth, what might they look like? Contemporary images of alien lifeforms differ significantly from previous ones. See article.
g Aftermath - Do archaeologists and anthropologists have anything to teach the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, where encounters are at the distance of light-years, and a round-trip exchange could take millennia? See article.

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