Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Supermassive black hole venting, Venus Express looks back, paleontology-space connection

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 - Newfound plumes of material 300,000 light-years across are forced outward by the explosive venting of a supermassive black hole, astronomers announced. See article.
g Abodes - A recent check of the VIRTIS imaging spectrometer during the Venus Express commissioning phase has allowed its first remote-sensing data to be acquired, using Earth and the Moon as a reference. See article.
g Life - Learning as much as possible about the earliest life on Earth is probably the best starting point for trying to find life somewhere else, said Roger Buick, a paleontologist who became the first faculty member hired specifically for the University of Washington's pioneering graduate program in astrobiology. See article.
g Intelligence - German and U.S. scientists have launched a project to reconstruct the Neanderthal genome, the Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology said. See article.
g Message - Interstellar spacecraft are superior to electromagnetic wave propagation for extrasolar exploration and communication. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence should include a search for extraterrestrial probes. See article. Note: This article is from 1983.
g Cosmicus - While paying for a flight on a commercial spaceship is now closer to reality challenges do remain, with flight safety a high priority. Furthermore, there are regulatory battles still to be waged. And major technical issues await resolution. See article.
g Learning - A new section of the Journal of Geophysical Research will focus on biogeosciences of the Earth system in the past, present and future and its applicability to planetary studies. See article.
g Imagining - Watch the film "Alien vs. Predator” and you might feel there was little left to lose in seeing "Exorcist - The Beginning". As it happens, both movies, although undeniably bad, are thought provoking. Humans have a longstanding fascination with powerful, malevolent entities, whether extraterrestrial or supernatural, and the existence of such entities, however farfetched in its cinematic presentation, is a fair topic for inquiry and speculation. See article.

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