Thursday, September 15, 2005

Galaxy cluster formation, Martian ancestors and interstellar migration

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 -ESA's X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, has for the first time allowed scientists to study in detail the formation history of galaxy clusters, not only with single arbitrarily selected objects, but with a complete representative sample of clusters. Knowing how these massive objects formed is a key to understanding the past and future of the universe. See article.
g Abodes - Some of the highest quality images ever taken of the Earth's lower crust reveal that the upper and lower crust form in two distinctly different ways. To form the images, the researchers, led by a team from Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, analyzed sound waves bounced off structures deep in the Earth, a process similar to creating an ultrasound image. See article.
g Life - Suppose that billions of years ago life developed on Mars. Primitive, tiny organisms that thrived deep within rocks and made a living from water and chemicals seeping through those rocks. Now imagine that a huge asteroid collided with Mars. Millions of Martian rock fragments were thrown into space by the force of the impact. Tough Martian organisms hitchhiked on some of this ejecta. Many pieces went into orbit around the sun and, after hundreds of thousands of years, some of these collided with the Earth. Of those rocks, a few reached the surface. Some hardy Martian organisms survived the journey, colonized the Earth and eventually evolved into the huge variety of life that we know today. Yes, our ancestors may be Martian. See article. Note: This article was written in November 1999.
g Intelligence - The human and the chimpanzee Y chromosomes went their separate ways approximately 6 million years ago. But ever since this evolutionary parting, these two chromosomes have experienced different fates. While the human Y has maintained its count of 27 genes and gene families, some of these same genes on the chimp Y have mutated and gradually become inactive. The authors speculate that one likely reason for such disparity is due to chimpanzee mating habits. See article.
g Message - Should we be looking for extraterrestrial civilizations, rather than just listening for them, as we do in the SETI project? That is the suggestion of a French astronomer, Luc Arnold, in his paper “Transit Lightcurve Signatures of Artificial Objects.” He believes that the transit of large artificial objects in front of a sun could be a used for the emission of attention-getting signals. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA briefed senior White House officials Wednesday on its plan to spend $100 billion and the next 12 years building the spacecraft and rockets it needs to put humans back on the Moon by 2018. See article.
g Learning - The United States leads the way in areas such as robot-assisted surgery and mobile space robots, but is losing ground in other fields. The United States once dominated in the development of robots designed for service and industry, but now other countries are catching up and even passing the old golden standard. See article.
g Imagining - Here’s an interesting Web site about alien depictions in science fiction: “Life on Other Worlds”.
g Aftermath - As we learn more about our place in the universe, and as we physically move away from our home planet, our cosmic consciousness will only increase. With due respect for present religious traditions whose history stretches back four millennia, the natural God of cosmic evolution and the biological universe, not the supernatural God of the ancient Near East, may be the God of the next millennium. See article.

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