Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Older other earths, Allen Telescope Array and how planetary scientists do their job

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 - NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory revealed a new generation of stars spawned by a super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. This novel mode of star formation may solve several mysteries about these super-massive black holes that reside at the centers of nearly all galaxies. See article.
g Abodes - A study at the University of New South Wales has determined that terrestrial planets, or rocky planets like the Earth, in the universe will on average be 1.8 billion years older than Earth. See article.
g Life - Is it an alien life form? No, just bryozoans — and they’re found in the Connecticut River. See article.
g Intelligence - Dreams can help in coming to terms with major events and in taking difficult decisions in life. This is what Dutch-sponsored researcher Elizabeth Mohkamsing-den Boer concluded after her research into the function of dreams in indigenous Surinamese and Australian tribes. See article.
g Message - The tent looked so big when it was first installed. The vaulted top stands 35 feet above the ground. It is 40 feet wide. The door is almost 30 feet high. It’s gleaming white. In short, it’s a perfect place within which to build the antennas for the Allen Telescope Array. See article.
g Cosmicus - "What is there to do in orbit?" Or, as some of the "real" space industry guys have said "Why would anyone want to go to orbit? There's nothing there - no air, no shops - it's just cold, dark nothing" (except when it's scorching bright nothing, as it were ...) Amazing, isn't it? These guys are in charge of the greatest fun-fair ride in the solar system - and they can't even see it! Luckily most people are much smarter than this, and know that space is a playground of unique things to do, that are impossible on Earth. To keep it simple we can say that the fun of living in orbit boils down to two main ideas - the view, and zero gravity. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat set of classroom activities that show how planetary scientists do their job. See article.
g Imagining - Many science fiction story lines involve alien life forms. From a literary prospective, aliens often serve as metaphors for something more familiar. From a practical prospective, they make stories more interesting and TV more eye-catching. But what of scientific accuracy? A professor offers his advice about "How to Build an Alien".
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing paper published earlier this year and translated from German for "Futurological Reflections on the Confrontation of Mankind with an Extraterrestrial Civilization." See article.

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