Sunday, September 25, 2005

A recipe for planets, lunar dirt-digging contest and ‘From the Earth to the Moon’

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 first survey of the entire northern Milky Way in 40 years is shedding fresh light on the life-cycle of stars in our astronomical backyard. The survey, which publishes its initial findings today in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, uses the latest high resolution instruments to seek out stars and nebulae in the early and late phases of their evolution, stages that are rarely observed because they are so short-lived. See article.
g Abodes - When Deep Impact smashed into comet Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005, it released the ingredients of our solar system's primordial "soup." Now, astronomers using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope and Deep Impact have analyzed that soup and begun to come up with a recipe for what makes planets, comets and other bodies in our solar system. See article.
g Life - Researchers at The Institute for Genomic Research have come to a startling conclusion. Armed with the powerful tools of comparative genomics and mathematics, institute scientists have concluded that researchers might never fully describe some bacteria and viruses - because their genomes are infinite. Sequence one strain of the species, and scientists will find significant new genes. See article.
g Intelligence - The popular media has portrayed men and women as psychologically different as two planets - Mars and Venus - but these differences are vastly overestimated and the two sexes are more similar in personality, communication, cognitive ability and leadership than realized, according to a review of 46 meta-analyses conducted over the last 20 years. See article.
g Message - If extraterrestrial life and intelligence exist, and if these ETI have ever engaged in, or presently are engaging in, interstellar exploration or communication, this most likely will involve the transmission of material artifacts. Some evidence of this activity may be apparent from within the confines of the Solar System and thus could be detected by a suitable observational effort. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA announced a $250,000 prize for the team that can win a lunar dirt-digging contest that will take place here on Earth. See article.
g Learning - Not only did NASA unveil its new plan to send human explorers to the Moon by 2018, but IMAX released “Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon in 3D” nationwide today and – since good things come in threes – HBO Video released its new DVD box set “From the Earth to the Moon: The Signature Edition”.
g Imagining - Could the legendary dragons of Pern from Anne McCaffrey’s famous science fiction novels actually exist? Welcome to the theoretical science of dracogenetics. See article.
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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