Saturday, December 03, 2005

Gas giants in a few hundred years, drilling for life on Mars and modifying the Drake Equation

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 - A relatively young star located about 300 light-years away is greatly improving our understanding of the formation of Earth-like planets. The dustiest environment ever seen so close to a Sun-like star well after its formation shrouds the star. The warm dust is believed to be from recent collisions of rocky bodies at distances from the star comparable to that of the Earth from the Sun. See article.
g Abodes - An accepted assumption in astrophysics holds that it takes more than 1 million years for gas giant planets such as Jupiter and Saturn to form from the cosmic debris circling a young star. But new research suggests such planets form in a dramatically shorter period, as little as a few hundred years. See article.
g Life - To the age-old question, “Is there life on Mars?” NASA scientists have added another equally intriguing one, “Are there resources on Mars?” Now, an international team of researchers is closing in on drilling technology that could provide answers. See article.
g Intelligence - New research by Iowa State University researchers shows that rewarded violence in video games increases hostility and aggressive thinking and behavior. Violent behavior punished in the context of a video game increases hostility to the same degree, but affects aggressive thoughts and behavior less. See article.
g Message - Should we modify the Drake Equation to account for civilizations which actually engage in deliberate interstellar transmission? See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA is leaning toward flying its next space shuttle mission without the protective foam ramp that broke away from Discovery's external tank during its July return to flight, according to a spokesman for the U.S. space agency. See article.
g Learning - At a time when industrial, academic, and business leaders are calling for more American students to train in engineering, mathematics, science and technology, we need to teach science in science classrooms. Let’s teach the scientific ideas that are supported by overwhelming evidence such as gravitation, relativity, quantum mechanics, and evolution. Creationist ideas/beliefs, such as intelligent design, don’t belong in science classrooms. In our haste to leave no child behind, let’s not leave science behind either. See article.
g Imagining - Book alert: Here’s an oldie worth finding in a used bookstore: Walter E. Meyers’ “Aliens and Linguists: Language Study and Science Fiction.” It examines how science fiction treats aliens using languages, aptly pointing out fallacies and offering some intriguing speculations. See review.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing short story for you to look up: Frederick Pohl’s “The Day after the Day the Martians Came.” It examines racial prejudice and raises an interesting point about how we might react to one another following alien contact. Pohl’s story is anthologized in the classic “Dangerous Visions,” edited by Harlan Ellison.

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