Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Hot primordial soup, impacts of space activities and limits of life on Earth

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 - From the beginnings of the solar system billions of years ago, life on Earth has been dependent on the Sun as an energy source. The light and heat from the Sun have played a fundamental role in creating the conditions for terrestrial life to expand and flourish beyond its initial geothermal niches. Thus, understanding the formation of stars like the Sun is a key step toward understanding the emergence of life in the universe. Recent studies of star formation make it increasingly clear that the classic view of stars forming in isolation is atypical. A better understanding of star formation involves multiple systems, where two or more stars form in close proximity and affect each other's early evolution. In using this new approach, a large number of previously unexplained phenomena are a natural outcome of these multiple stars interacting with one another. See article.
g Abodes - Evidence suggests that the interior of the Chilean Atacama Desert, the most arid region on Earth, contains no living organisms. Yet, where the desert meets the Pacific Coastal Range, desiccation-tolerant microorganisms are known to exist. The gradient of biodiversity and habitats of life in the Atacama’s subregions remain unexplored. See article.
g Life - A new theory that explains why the language of our genes is more complex than it needs to be also suggests that the primordial soup where life began on Earth was hot and not cold, as many scientists believe. See article.
g Intelligence - It sounds like an infomercial from late-night TV: Follow this four-step plan and improve your memory in just 14 days! But researchers have indeed found a way to improve memory function in older people. After a two-week study that involved brainteasers, exercise and diet changes, study participants' memories worked more efficiently. See article.
g Message - For the past few decades, many astronomers (especially those who work on radio wavelength!) have been fascinated with the idea of communicating with intelligent technological civilizations (who have developed radio or laser communication). Among the first leading radio astronomers in this direction was Frank Drake who suggested an empirical relation for estimating the number of such civilizations in our galaxy. See article.
g Cosmicus - As the 21st century gets underway, the impact of space activities upon the welfare of humanity only will increase. See article.
g Learning - Here’s an interesting classroom activity: “Who Can Live Here?” Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds.
g Imagining - Traditional science fiction has aliens who speak some form of English or resemble humans. The problem is, chances are slim that non-terrestrial life will have such earthling-like traits. Chemists at the University of Florida hope to overcome that obstacle by figuring out what alien life might look like. See article. Note: This article is from 1998.
g Aftermath - Epicurus, in the fourth century BC, believed that the universe contained other worlds like our own, and since his time there has been considerable debate whether extraterrestrial life exists and might communicate with us. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, an international social movement — Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence — has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials already have been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article.

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