Sunday, November 06, 2005

Alpha Centauri, searching for Earth-like planets and Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District

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 - The closest star to Earth that is like our own sun is Alpha Centauri, just a mere 4.36 light years away. Here’s a good primer on the star.
g Abodes - A space telescope that could resolve weather patterns and continents on Earth-like planets around other stars is among five promising ideas selected for more detailed study by the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts. See article.
g Life - In a new book, a university paleontologist puts forth an expanded "tree of life," or biological classification system, to account for a variety of life forms that would not fit in the current system. See article.
g Intelligence - Alien abduction is probably all in the mind, according to new research. See article.
g Message - Today, it is widely recognized that the "contact pessimists" have a rather strong position; most of recent scholarly monographs on the subject are strongly skeptical towards the possibility of finding complex intelligent life elsewhere (e.g. Ward and Brownlee). Why is that so? See article.
g Cosmicus - Researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center have identified a set of key immune-response genes that do not turn on in a weightless environment. The discovery is another clue in the effort to solve an almost 40-year-old mystery: why the human immune system does not function well in the weightlessness of space. See article.
g Learning - Kitzmiller vs. Dover Area School District, which concluded Friday, marks the first legal test for intelligent design. At issue, is whether the policy of the board to incorporate intelligent design into its curriculum was motivated by religious or educational principles. If either the purpose, or the effect, of a public school policy is religious, it would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment, which the Supreme Court has interpreted to mandate a separation of church and state. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien biologies and environments? Scour your bookstore for Andre Norton’s "The Last Planet" (1953), famous for the birdman or "The Beast Master" (1959), famous for the lizard men.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: "We are not ready for contact. We have not yet created the philosophical context for a calm and rational relationship with aliens. That relationship will require a broad view of life in the Universe... It will require a long perspective on our own history, and a sure knowledge of our own purposes... We may not have much more time to put our house in order before contact occurs." — Michael Michaud

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