Thursday, September 29, 2005

First stars, Voyager 1 at the border and defending evolution

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 - What did the very first stars look like? How did they live and die? Astronomers have ideas, but no proof. The first stars are so distant and formed so long ago that they are invisible to our best telescopes. See article.
g Abodes - Why go to Mars - the answer to one of the biggest questions in the universe might be right under our noses? See article.
g Life - Scientists are now revisiting, and perhaps revising, their thinking about how Archaea, an ancient kingdom of single-celled microorganisms, are involved in maintaining the global balance of nitrogen and carbon. Researchers have discovered the first Archaea known to oxidize ammonia for energy and metabolize carbon dioxide by successfully growing the tentatively named, Nitrosopumilus maritimus, in the lab. See article.
g Intelligence - Psychology researchers have long understood and accepted the importance of an individual's brain activity in motor areas when interpreting the actions of others. However, much less was known about the role the body plays in helping individuals process and understand the same information. With the help of two patients suffering from an extremely rare degenerative neurological condition, a Rutgers-Newark Psychology Professor and his team of researchers have established that the body plays a significant role in helping humans to perceive and understand the actions of others. See article.
g Message - Unexplained or incompletely studied astrophysical phenomena such as odd star populations of the galaxy NGC 5907 or the asymmetry of increases and decreases in the brightness of long-period variable stars provide us with a number of locations that may be studied for signs of Dyson Shells. If we free ourselves from anthropocentric perspectives and combine the ideas of Dyson, Minsky and Suffern as well as the technological progress of recent decades, we can envision advanced civilizations at the limits of physical laws. Observations directed towards stars decreasing in visual magnitude or searching for stellar occultations by large cold dark objects, merit serious consideration as future strategies in optical SETI. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA's Voyager 1 has passed into the border region at the edge of the solar system and now is sending back information about this never-before-explored area, say scientists at the University of Maryland. See article.
g Learning - A former physics teacher testified that his rural school board ignored faculty protests before deciding to introduce the concept of "intelligent design'' to high school students. See article.
g Imagining - Book alert: Here’s an oldie worth finding in a used bookstore: Walter E. Meyers’ “Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction.” It examines how science fiction treats aliens using languages, aptly pointing out fallacies and offering some intriguing speculations. See article for a review.
g Aftermath - Looking for some interesting reading on “first contact”? Try the science fiction anthology “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Larry Segriff. The book came out in 1997. Here’s a review (though it’s less than flattering).

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