Saturday, September 24, 2005

Planets trading places, the Artifact Hypothesis and first impressions

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 - Comet Tempel 1 may have been born in the region of the solar system occupied by Uranus and Neptune today, according to one possibility from an analysis of the comet's debris blasted into space by NASA's Deep Impact mission. If correct, the observation supports a wild scenario for the solar system's youth, where the planets Uranus and Neptune may have traded places and scattered comets to deep space. See article. For related story, see “Don’t judge a comet by its cover” at article.
g Abodes - Dr. Jack Farmer of Arizona State University is an astrobiologist whose 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 second of a three-part series, he discusses what scientists have learned from recent NASA and ESA missions to the red planet. See article.
g Life - By examining how proteins have evolved, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have discovered a set of simple "rules" that nature appears to use to design proteins, rules the scientists have now employed to create artificial proteins that look and function just like their natural counterparts. See article.
g Intelligence - New computer simulations show three modes of locomotion are most efficient for humans: walking, running, and a third one that for some reason we don't employ. See article.
g Message - The Artifact Hypothesis states that a technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization has undertaken a long-term program of galactic exploration via transmission of material artifacts. Four general classes of unconcealed observable artifacts are potentially available to test this Hypothesis: Astroengineering activities, self-replicating artifacts, passive artifacts, and active probes. Of these, only active self-repairing probes are likely both to exist and to be observable from within the Solar System. See article.
g Cosmicus - A bike-like centrifuge that creates artificial gravity may help astronauts combat muscle atrophy in space. See article.
g Learning - A court case that begins Monday in Pennsylvania will be the first to determine whether it is legal to teach a controversial idea called intelligent design in public schools. See article.
g Imagining - One of the creepiest concepts in science-fiction horror has been transformed into a huggable soft and cuddly toy. See article.
g Aftermath - If some day we decide to transmit intentional messages to the stars, rather than solely listen as current SETI programs do, what would we say? What sort of first impression would we want to give our celestial correspondents? See article.

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