Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Intracluster sunlight, quick-growing Neanderthals and ‘intelligent design’ posing as theory

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 - Case Western Reserve University astronomers have captured the deepest wide-field image ever of the nearby Virgo cluster of galaxies, directly revealing for the first time a vast, complex web of "intracluster starlight" - nearly 1,000 times fainter than the dark night sky - filling the space between the galaxies within the cluster. See article.
g Abodes - Open University researchers have uncovered startling new evidence about an extreme period of a sudden, fatal dose of global warming some 180 million years ago during the time of the dinosaurs. The scientists' findings could provide vital clues about climate change happening today and in the future. See article.
g Life - The evolution of complex and physiologically remarkable structures such as the vertebrate eye has long been a focus of intrigue and theorizing by biologists. In work reported this week in Current Biology, the evolutionary history of a critical eye protein has revealed a previously unrecognized relationship between certain components of vertebrate eyes and those of the more primitive light-sensing systems of invertebrates. The findings help clarify our conceptual framework for understanding how the vertebrate eye, as we know it, has emerged over evolutionary time. See article.
g Intelligence - Recent research suggested that ancient Neanderthals might have had an accelerated childhood compared to that of modern humans but that seems flawed, based on a new assessment by researchers from Ohio State University and the University of Newcastle. See article.
g Message - In SETI program planning, higher priority should be given in the near-term to those probe and artifact searches which can be carried out quickly and inexpensively, in preference to larger more expensive beacon searches which should be mounted in the decades ahead. See article.
g Cosmicus - A private group has taken one small step toward the prospect of building a futuristic space elevator. See article.
g Learning - The lawsuit over whether intelligent design should be taught in schools alongside evolution began in federal court on Monday with defendants' attorneys calling it a scientific theory and opponents saying it was an effort to put God in the classroom. See article.
g Imagining - Watch the film "Alien vs. Predator” you might feel there was little left to lose in seeing "Exorcist - The Beginning". As it happens, both movies, although undeniably bad, are thought provoking. Humans have a longstanding fascination with powerful, malevolent entities, whether extraterrestrial or supernatural, and the existence of such entities, however farfetched in its cinematic presentation, is a fair topic for inquiry and speculation. See article.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing read: the final report of “The Workshop on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology.” See report. Note: The workshop was held in 1999.

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