Friday, September 30, 2005

Fertile universe, life on Titan and supernova doomed mammoths

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 universe was a more fertile place soon after it was formed than has previously been suspected. A team of French and Italian astronomers made indeed the surprising discovery of a large and unknown population of distant galaxies observed when the universe was only 10 percent to 30 percent its present age. See article.
g Abodes - When the Cassini-Huygens mission parted Titan's smoggy veil, it revealed a familiar and yet utterly alien landscape, one where now-dry methane rivers carved out channels in mountains of ice. There's no evidence for biology on Titan's frozen terrain, but in this interview with Astrobiology Magazine, David Grinspoon ponders whether life could exist there today. See article. For related story, see “Spying spokes”.
g Life - A distant supernova that exploded 41,000 years ago may have led to the extinction of the mammoth, according to research that will be presented by nuclear scientist Richard Firestone of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Firestone, who conducted this research with Arizona geologist Allen West, will unveil this theory at the 2nd International Conference "The World of Elephants" in Hot Springs, SD. Their theory joins the list of possible culprits responsible for the demise of mammoths, which last roamed North America roughly 13,000 years ago. Scientists have long eyed climate change, disease, or intensive hunting by humans as likely suspects. See article.
g Intelligence - Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of two newborns dating back 27,000 years while excavating a hillside in northern Austria, the scientist in charge of the project said Monday. See article.
g Message - Whatever form extraterrestrials take, why—if they exist—don’t they get in touch with us? See article.
g Cosmicus - Global Aerospace Corporation is proposing a new way of exploring Mars that combines the reach of orbiters and high resolution observations of rovers by using be a balloon that can be steered in the right direction and that would drop small science packages over the target sites. See article.
g Learning - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell vowed Wednesday to keep "intelligent design" out of California's classrooms, which he believes are not a place for religious beliefs. See article.
g Imagining - What about the invading aliens from the X-Files: Are they plausible? A book released a few years ago that addresses the topic is “The Science of the X-Files,” by Jeanne Cavelos. There’s a review of the book (look near the end for a discussion on the extraterrestrial biology) at article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an interesting book for some astrobiological reading: “After Contact: The Human Response to Extraterrestrial Life”by Albert A. Harrison. See reviews.

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