Sunday, October 30, 2005

Terrestrial Planet Finder, natural selection shaping human evolution and first contact by 2100

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 - Quote of the Day: "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces frightens me." — Blaise Pascal
g Abodes -The Terrestrial Planet Finder mission will have the technology to look for signs of life in the light reflected or emitted by planets orbiting nearby stars. But nobody knows exactly what signals life would emit. Clues from studies of Earth's early atmosphere are guiding the mission's technology development. See article.
g Life - The discovery of millions of ancient, ultra-tiny microbes 3,000 meters deep in a Greenland glacier suggests that similar hardy species may live in ice elsewhere in the solar system, researchers say. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Intelligence - A recent genomics study by Cornell scientists that analyzed the genes of 39 humans and one chimpanzee offers strong evidence that natural selection has shaped human evolution. See article.
g Message - Britain’s Astronomer Royal says we’ll likely know if intelligent aliens exist by the end of this century. See article.
g Cosmicus - Until recently, warp drive was only associated with science fiction, but in 1994 Miguel Alcubierre presented a paper which theoretically described a physical mechanism where a spaceship could be propelled by a method similar to what is described in science fiction books. The most interesting aspect about Alcubierre's method was the fact that it was entirely based on known physics, on the theory of general relativity, and his proposal included a warp metric. Alcubierre's paper can be considered a scientific landmark in the sense that it effectively opened the way for discussing warp drive propulsion in physical terms, since from that moment on warp drive was no longer only a fiction, but also became a scientific issue. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat essay: a tribute to Mt. Wilson's 60-Inch Telescope in Los Angeles.
g Imagining - Never-seen-before footage released to the 'IoS' reveals the extraordinary discarded prologue to Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey." See footage.
g Aftermath - What would an intelligent signal from another planet change about human destiny? This large question is the topic of the book "The SETI Factor," by Frank White, who also analyzes how to announce such an historic finding and whether it would unite or divide nations. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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