Friday, October 14, 2005

Critical meteorites, life in our own solar system and private spaceships

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 - Advanced technologies now available at the National Science Foundation's Dunn Solar Telescope at Sunspot, NM, are revealing striking details inside sunspots and hint at features remaining to be discovered in solar activity. These features hold the key to understanding the magnetic structure of sunspots and can only be seen in ultra high-resolution images such as this one. Magnetism in solar activity is the "dark energy problem" being tackled in solar physics today. See article.
g Abodes - University of Arizona scientists have discovered that meteorites, particularly iron meteorites, may have been critical to the evolution of life on Earth. See article. Please accept my apologies in advance for the Babylonian Web site I found this otherwise scientifically legitimate story on.
g Life - A team of NASA exobiology researchers revealed this week organic chemicals that play a crucial role in the chemistry of life are common in space. See article.
g Intelligence - The first study to systematically mark the onset of "childhood amnesia" found that by the time children are 10, their preschool memories have already faded away. See article.
g Message - Book alert: Is it possible that extraterrestrial life forms exist within the Milky Way? "Extraterrestrials: Where Are They?" edited by Ben Zuckerman and Michael H. Hart, offers a critical analysis by leading experts in a range of sciences, of the plausibility that other intelligent lifeforms do exist. Exploration of the Solar System, and observations with telescopes that probe deep space, have come up empty handed in searches for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Many experts in the fields of astronomy, biology, chemistry and physics are now arguing that the evidence points to the conclusion that technological civilizations are rare. After ten billion years, and among hundreds of billions of stars, we may well possess the most advanced brains in the Milky Way Galaxy. This second edition contains many new and updated aspects of extraterrestrial research, especially the biological viewpoint of the question.
g Cosmicus - The next generation of human spaceflight is no longer the sole province of governments. Private spaceships transporting passengers first to the edge of space—and ultimately into orbit—are in various stages of design, construction and testing. See article. For related story, see "NASA Issues New Centennial Challenges To Spur Suborbital Rocketry".
g Learning - Here’s a neat book for children: "Draw Alien Fantasies", by Damon J. Reinagle. It offers step-by-step instructions show you basic techniques, inspirational ideas, plus drawing tips and tricks for weird alien heroes, space stations, space ships, and astronauts.
g Imagining - Like stories about communicating with aliens? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for Michael Bishop’s "Transfigurations" (1979), in which ET converses by changing colors.
g Aftermath Donald E. Tarter, a consultant in space policy and technology assessment, makes a persuasive case for developing the protocols and technology to reply to an extraterrestrial signal before news of the discovery is made public, in his article, "Advocating an Immediate Response." Delay could be costly as technologically advanced fringe groups or ambitious nations could attempt to score a propaganda victory by being the first to reply, creating a mixed and perhaps embarrassing first message. This could be avoided by settling on a quick and simple message to let the extraterrestrial source know that we had received their message. See article. Note: This report is from 1996.

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