Thursday, November 17, 2005

SETI looks at M dwarfs, lichens in space and the Darwin exhibition

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 - More than half the stars in our galaxy are small, dim M dwarfs. Until recently, scientists believed these stars put out too little light to support life on any planets that orbited them. But at a recent workshop held at the SETI Institute, a multidisciplinary group of researchers concluded not only that M dwarfs might host habitable planets, but that they might also be good targets in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. See article.
g Abodes - Palmettos in Pennsylvania? Magnolias in Minnesota? The migration of subtropical plants to northern climates may not be too far-fetched if future global warming patterns mirror a monumental shift that took place in the past, new research by an international team of scientists suggests. See article. For related story, see "Rapid warming caused vegetation changes".
g Life - One of the main focuses in the search for living organisms on other planets and the possibilities for transfer of life between planets currently centers on bacteria, due to the organism's simplicity and the possibility of it surviving an interplanetary journey exposed to the harsh space environment. This focus may develop to encompass more advanced organisms following the results of an ESA experiment on the recent Foton-M2 mission where it was discovered that lichens are very adept at surviving in open space. See article.
g Intelligence - In a major new development in human evolutionary studies, researchers from the University of Cambridge argue that the dispersal of modern humans from Africa to South Asia may have occurred as recently as 70,000 years ago. See article.
g Message - The only real issue regarding the existence of ETI species is whether they live near enough for us to contact them. See article.
g Cosmicus - Commercial space station cargo ships, crew ferries and other spacecraft will prove a vital cog in NASA’s engine for future space exploration, the agency’s top official said Tuesday. See article.
g Learning - Going to New York City any time soon? Then be sure to check this out: "Darwin" at American Museum of Natural History will be the most comprehensive exhibit ever mounted on the British naturalist, whose ideas transformed biology and sparked a religious debate that is playing out in courtrooms, statehouses and school board meetings across the United States. It opens Saturday. See article.
g Imagining - If the galaxy was colonized before the solar system existed, the possibility of interstellar colonization does not necessarily imply the nonexistence of extraterrestrial civilizations. See article.
g Aftermath - Book alert: In their November 2003 book "In Cosmic Company: The Search for Life in the Universe," authors Seth Shostak and Alex Barnett ponder the possibility of alien life and the consequences of receiving a signal from the cosmos. They explain why scientists think sentient life might exist on other worlds, how we could discover it and what it might be like. Entertaining and informative, this hard cover book is lavishly illustrated. See reviews.

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