Sunday, October 23, 2005

Habitable zones, sharing the universe and widening the search of extraterrestrial intelligence

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 - What is a star’s "habitable zone"? Here’s a primer.
g Abodes - What are the primary bioindicators for remote sensing of life on a far-away world? A report prepared for future space-borne telescopes that will seek to answer this question, also looks deeper into how to find and confirm these prospective water worlds. See article.
g Life - Book alert: "Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life," by SETI scientist Seth Shostak is definitely worth a read. He builds a careful case for the importance of the institute's work, narrowing the range of the galaxy's possibly life-nurturing stars and imagining what forms non-carbon-based life might take. See reviews.
g Intelligence - Delving ever deeper into the intricate architecture of the brain, researchers at The Salk Institute have now described how two different types of nerve cells, called neurons, work together in tiny sub-networks to pass on just the right amount and the right kind of sensory information. See article.
g Message - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is expanding its array of search strategies. This is a highly appropriate change. Here are seven reasons why widening the array is appropriate. See article.
g Cosmicus - Although there are no direct data on extraterrestrial life, planetary observations and statistical considerations support the possibility of such life. The significance of the questions the "science" of exobiology may answer warrants its active pursuit. These questions range from whether life exists elsewhere to fundamental inquiries in all the sciences. See paper. Note: This paper is from 1964.
g Learning - How are key concepts of astrobiology treated in science fiction? See article. Note: This article is from 2001 and intended to be used as part of a classroom lesson.
g Imagining - Ever wondered how all those traditional space-opera and epic-fantasy races - the pig-faced warriors, the smug bumheads, and all the rest - came up with their wonderfully clich├ęd alien vocabularies? It's not difficult; once you've mastered these basic rules, you'll be able to produce names and phrases just as stereotypical as theirs. See article.
g Aftermath - Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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