Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Life in extreme environments, broadened search strategy and cosmic evolution

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 - An international team of scientists using data from a small NASA spacecraft has put into place a large piece of the astronomical puzzle of short-duration gamma-ray bursts. See article.
g Abodes - As the Amazon River floods every year, a sizeable portion of South America sinks several inches because of the extra weight – and then rises again as the waters recede, a study has found.
g Life - Paleontologists have uncovered the remains of two new flying reptile species that shared the skies with early birds 120 million years ago in what is now China. See article.
g Intelligence - For a variety of Web links about life in extreme environments, see Astrobiology Web’s reference page. It’s a great site if you’ve got a term paper due!
g Message - It is up to the present generation of astronomers to begin the survey of small solar system objects to determine if any of them seem to be artificial. We may have to observe many thousands of asteroids or comets to find a likely candidate. But "conventional" SETI searchers are used to laborious searches since they must investigate hundreds or thousands of stars in the hope of finding one communicative civilization. Perhaps a broadened search strategy will enlarge the likelihood of a successful detection. See article.
g Cosmicus - Listen to a Webcast Thursday (Oct. 12) as Jill Tarter and Fred Spier discuss the "Onset of civilization and prospects for the future," part of the Wright Lectures on Cosmic Evolution at the Boston Museum of Science. See article.
g Learning - As a federal judge hears arguments over whether a Pennsylvania school district can include "intelligent design" in its biology curriculum, Dan Barbour fears the New Mexico high school where he works could face a similar showdown. See article.
g Imagining - Book alert: Scour your used book stores for “The Last Frontier Imagining Other Worlds from the Copernican Revolution to Modern Science Fiction,” by Karl S. Guthke. Originally published (1983) as "Der Mythos der Neuzeit,” the book traces the development of the idea that Earth is not the only planet inhabited by intelligent beings, but that there might be a plurality or even an infinity of "world" with human or humanoid life. See reviews.
g Aftermath - Often the advanced science and technology of alien civilizations is touted as a benefit of contact with alien civilizations. So what type of physics would an advanced, extraterrestrial civilization likely possess? See what theoretical physicist Michio Kaku thinks that civilization might have.

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