Monday, November 14, 2005

Mission to Europa, Fermi Paradox as a logical fallacy and Neil Armstrong’s autobiography

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 - Using the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have recorded a massive star moving at more than 2.6 million kilometers per hour. Its position in the sky leads to the suggestion that the star was kicked out from the Large Magellanic Cloud, providing indirect evidence for a massive black hole in the Milky Way's closest neighbor. See article.
g Abodes - The Galileo Mission has provided encouraging evidence that Europa might have an ocean of liquid water under a layer of ice and this has stimulated speculation that life might possibly exist in such an environment. In 2003 the Europa Orbiter left Earth with the goal of determining if Europa does indeed have an ocean. If the result turns out to be positive, then a future mission might send some kind of robotic submarine to melt through the ice and explore the sea below. 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. At the southern tip of South America, they found fossils of an entirely new species of ancient crocodile - one whose massive jaws and jagged teeth would have made it the most fearsome predator in the sea. See article.
g Intelligence - A group of monkeys have shown a similar ability to humans in telling the difference between large and small groups of dots, according to a recent study by Duke University researchers. See article.
g Message - The "Fermi Paradox," an argument that extraterrestrial intelligence cannot exist because it has not yet been observed, is a logical fallacy. This "paradox" is a formally invalid inference. both because it requires modal operators lying outside the first-order propositional calculus and because it is unsupported by the observational record. See article.
g Cosmicus - The European Astrobiology Network Association brings the various voices from Europe together to discuss astrobiology issues and missions. Scientists from the 17 member nations - Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom - recently met in Budapest, Hungary. This blog by Astrobiology Magazine's Leslie Mullen provides an overview of the workshop. See article.
g Learning - Neil Armstrong himself has long been enigmatic in recounting his most private of reflections regarding this seminal episode in space history, and the behind-the-scenes drama surrounding the most important "step" in human space exploration. Now he has published his autobiography. See article.
g Imagining - While science fiction has come a long way from the days of bug-eyed monsters, the genre still hasn't gone far enough in presenting well-conceived alien beings. As a derivative genre, role-playing games have an even poorer record. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: "We have to mentally prepare ourselves for this big shock — perhaps even being dethroned from the center of the universe, the biological universe — when we discover evidence of life in outer space. At that point, there'll be another Copernican revolution, a biological Copernican revolution when we realize that we're not the only game in town." — Michio Kaku

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