Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Closest 17,129 stars that could harbor life, "Where is Everybody?" and creating new alien species in fiction

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 - Which stars might harbor life-supporting planets? SETI researchers have identified the 17,129 closet, most likely candidates. See article.
g Abodes - A surprising new study by an international team of researchers has concluded Earth's continents most likely were in place soon after the Western Australia, thought to be among the oldest planet was formed, overturning a long-held theory that the early planet was either moon-like or dominated by oceans. See article.
g Life - Researchers have discovered evidence of an ancient sea creature that would have made Tyrannosaurus rex, think twice before stepping into the ocean. See article.
g Intelligence - A study of DNA from ancient farmers in Europe shows sharp differences from that of modern Europeans — results that are likely to add fuel to the debate over European origins. See article. For related story, see "Earliest European Farmers Left Little Genetic Mark On Modern Europe".
g Message - Book alert: During a lunchtime conversation at Los Alamos more than 50 years ago, four world-class scientists agreed, given the size and age of the Universe, that advanced extraterrestrial civilizations had to exist. The sheer numbers demanded it. But one of the four, the renowned physicist and back-of-the-envelope calculator Enrico Fermi, asked the telling questions: If the extraterrestrial life proposition is true, he wondered, "Where is everybody?" In "Where Is Everybody?: Fifty Solutions to the Fermi Paradox and the Problem of Extraterrestrial Life," Stephen Webb presents a detailed discussion of the 50 most cogent and intriguing answers to Fermi's famous question. See reviews.
g Cosmicus - The National Space Institute was a space advocacy group established by the late Dr. Wernher von Braun (1912-1977) to help maintain the public's support for the United States space program. Here’s its history.
g Learning - Three cheers for the University of Kansas at Lawrence: Creationism and intelligent design are going to be studied there – in a mythology course. See article.
g Imagining - What should science fiction writers consider when creating a new alien species? Here’s a list of some important considerations as part of a lesson from a class on "world building".
g Aftermath - Could religions survive contact with extraterrestrials? The Medieval Church didn't think so, as the discovery would challenge mankind's central role in the cosmos. Today such ideas are considered old fashioned, and many theologians welcome the discovery of life — even intelligent life — among the stars. But if scientists were to find microscopic Martians or a signal from another world, would established religions really take it in stride? For a discussion, check out this past program of SETI’s "Are We Alone?". Note: An mp3 player is required to play the audio files; you can download one at the site for free.

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