Friday, November 11, 2005

Star-forming region, evolving penguins and relating to an alien species

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 - This Hubble Space Telescope view shows one of the most dynamic and intricately detailed star-forming regions in space, located 210,000 light-years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. At the center of the region is a brilliant star cluster called NGC 346. A dramatic structure of arched, ragged filaments with a distinct ridge surrounds the cluster. See article.
g Abodes - A supernova could be the "quick and dirty" explanation for what may have happened to an early North American culture, a nuclear scientist said. See article.
g Life - The breakup of giant icebergs may have forced minor evolutionary changes in penguins over the past 6,000 years, a new study suggests. See article.
g Intelligence - In the language system itself, psychologist Steven Pinker believes there are two key accomplishments. See article.
g Message - Quote of the Day: "The probability of success is difficult to estimate; but if we never search, the chance of success is zero." - Philip Morrison & Giuseppe Cocconi
g Cosmicus - NASA is using the unique capabilities of the Hubble Space Telescope for a new class of scientific observations of the Earth's moon. Hubble's resolution and sensitivity to ultraviolet light have allowed the telescope to search for important oxygen-bearing minerals on the moon. Since the moon does not have a breathable atmosphere, minerals, such as ilmenite (titanium and iron oxide), may be critical for a sustained human lunar presence. See article. For related story, see "Mbeki inaugurates 'gigantic African eye' in Karoo".
g Learning - Here’s a neat set of lesson plans deeply related to astrobiology: "The World of Bacteria." It’s for high school biology students. See article.
g Imagining - Like stories about alien anthropology/cultures? Be sure to scour your favorite used bookstores for David Brin’s Uplift Series: "Star Diver" (1980), "Startide Rising" (1983) and "The Uplift War" (1987), in which Earth takes its place in galactic politics, and from his New Uplift Trilogy: "Brightness Reef" (1995), "Infinity's Shore" (1997), in which six species live in harmony on an illegal colony world.
g Aftermath - Could humanity ever relate to an alien species? Consider the questioning context of these online speculations about why "Star Trek is human centered?" The latter is an interesting question, possibly creating a situation dealing with a prejudice on the behalf of the writers and producers. However, would a series completely dedicated to another species, such as the Romulans, be successful in a television market? Is it possible that the reasons it wouldn’t be might indicate humanity might care little about an alien species other than as a potential threat? See article.

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