Saturday, December 31, 2005

Frequent flyer miles for space, ‘Imagine Mars’ and ‘Networking with our Galactic Neighbors’

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 - Just like Charles Dickens' Christmas Carol takes us on a journey into past, present and future in the time of only one Christmas Eve, two of the European Southern Observatory's telescopes captured various stages in the life of a star in a single image. See article.
g Abodes - The Chicxulub meteorite impact is largely credited with the extinction of 50 percent of the world's species, including the dinosaurs. But could there have been more than one meteorite impact 65 million years ago? See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Life - Researchers at the University of Utah have discovered that when a gene called smedwi-2 is silenced in the adult stem cells of planarians, the quarter-inch long worm is unable to carry out a biological process that has mystified scientists for centuries: regeneration. See article.
g Intelligence - A gene known to be important for brain development is more active in humans than in apes, a discovery that might have played a key role in human evolution. See article.
g Message - Should we be looking for extraterrestrial civilizations, rather than just listening for them, as we do in the SETI project? That is the suggestion of a French astronomer, Luc Arnold, in his paper “Transit Lightcurve Signatures of Artificial Objects.” He believes that the transit of large artificial objects in front of a sun could be a used for the emission of attention-getting signals. See article.
g Cosmicus - Frequent flyer miles will for the first time be good beyond this planet, based on a new offering from Virgin Atlantic airways and its space-related sister company Virgin Galactic. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Imagine Mars.” A national arts, science and technology initiative that challenges young people to imagine and design a livable Mars community of the future. See article.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat Web site: The Exorarium. At the Exorarium, visitors get a chance to mix and match the same ingredients that brought about human life, shaping their own unique intelligent life forms. For example, you might start with a hot or cool star, a heavy or light planet, one with lots of water or a desert world, and so on – until a unique ecosystem takes shape before your eyes … a family tree leading to the ultimate outcome, a species of intelligent life. See article.
g Aftermath - “If we are able to find one extraterrestrial civilization, we should be able to find many,” according to the paper “Networking with our Galactic Neighbors.” “By the year 3000 either we will have abandoned the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or we will have made progress networking with other civilizations in our galaxy. One alternative is that we will first detect a civilization that, like our own, has not yet confirmed the existence of other distant civilizations. This success will accelerate our search efforts and put us in touch, one by one, with many more extraterrestrial societies. Under this alternative we would be founding members of the Galactic Club, that is the largest network of communicating civilizations within our galaxy. Another alternative is that our initial contact will be with a civilization that is already affiliated with the Galactic Club, with the result that we ourselves are offered membership. Whether we help build the first network of civilizations or are inducted into a pre-existing network could have profound implications for Humanity 3000.” For more, read paper. Note: This paper was released in 2000.

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