Saturday, October 15, 2005

Toxic oceans, tricorder and Astrobiology’s Most Wanted

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 - A new study suggests there may be no such thing as dark matter. See article.
g Abodes - NASA exobiology researchers confirmed Earth's oceans were once rich in sulfides that would prevent advanced life forms, such as fish and mammals, from thriving. A team of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, working with colleagues from Australia and the United Kingdom, analyzed the fossilized remains of photosynthetic pigments preserved in 1.6 billion-year-old rocks from the McArthur Basin in Northern Australia. They found evidence of photosynthetic bacteria that require sulfides and sunlight to live. See article.
g Life - A 90-million-year-old dinosaur recently discovered in Patagonia demonstrates that dromaeosaurs, carnivorous theropods that include Velociraptor, originated much earlier than previously thought. They originated during the Jurassic, up to 180 million years ago, rather than the Cretaceous. Buitreraptor gonzalezorum's birdlike features - its huge, hollow wishbone; winglike forelimbs; and bird-like pelvis - provide further link dinosaurs to birds. This finding implies that flight may have evolved twice: once in birds and once among this group of Gondwanan dromaeosaurs. See article. For related story, see "Wright Bros. Tapped Dino Collective Unconscious".
g Intelligence - To understand how intelligence develops, we have only one example to study: the development of human intelligence on Earth. Since intelligent life took a long time to develop on Earth, some believe it will take just as long on other worlds. The appearance of evolution seems aimed towards the development of intelligence, but what kinds and with what frequencies? See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Message - Anyone with a computer and an Internet connection can join a worldwide search for intelligent life in space. Here’s how Seti@home works.
g Cosmicus - Ever since the abrupt demise of the Saturn V rocket system at the end of the Apollo era, engineers and space advocates have dreamed of what they could do with a booster of similar capacity. The recent correct decision by NASA Chief Mike Griffin and his team to go for the largest available booster that can be created at a reasonable cost, will now allow us to make big plans for the first time in 35 years. See article. For a counter argument, see "The Mega-Module Path to Nowhere (Or: How to Eliminate Human Space Flight With an HLV)". For related story, see "Like a Hawk, Robotic Plane Rides Thermals".
g Learning - Here’s a neat article: "Astrobiology’s Most Wanted".
g Imagining - For several years a "game" called COTI has been played, in which the participants design an integrated world, alien life form and culture and simulate contact with a future human society. Here are the results of one of those simulations, in which humanity encounters the Alchemists, sea creatures of a new taxon combining many characteristics found in Earth’s cetaceans, crustaceans and mollusks. See article.
g Aftermath - The (un)likelihood of extraterrestrial visitation is probably one of the most debated aspects of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis, the answer being an essential component to the validity of the ETH. After all, the assumed unlikeliness of interstellar travel has become the cornerstone of those who resist the ETH as an explanation for UFOs. So, does extraterrestrial visitation necessarily require all sorts of "unlikely" science, or is it possible to accomplish interstellar travel using conventional wisdom? See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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