Sunday, December 04, 2005

Many candidates for Earth-like planets, SETI isn’t ID and ‘Why Mars?’

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 - Thanks to one of the most productive spacecraft ever built, scientists are far better acquainted with the star that lights our world and gives us life. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory was launched into space atop an Atlas rocket from Cape Canaveral on December 2, 1995. The tenth anniversary of SOHO's launch is a time for celebration for the ones who conceived, created and still operate this unprecedented solar spacecraft - and who have rescued it from oblivion three times. See article.
g Abodes - Astrobiologists disagree about whether advanced life is common or rare in our universe. But new research suggests that one thing is pretty certain - if an Earthlike world with significant water is needed for advanced life to evolve, there could be many candidates. See article.
g Life - The most comprehensive analysis ever performed of the genetic relationships among all the major groups of snakes, lizards and other scaly reptiles has resulted in a radical reorganization of the family tree of these animals, requiring new names for many of the tree's new branches. See article.
g Intelligence - Talk about creativity. Professional artists and poets hook up with two or three times as many sex partners as other people, new research indicates. See article.
g Message - The champions of Intelligent Design make two mistakes when they claim that the SETI enterprise is logically similar to their own. See article.
g Cosmicus - For many years people have asked the ever so important question, "Why Mars - why should we go to Mars?" For every individual who ponders this question there is a unique response. There is no correct answer to the conundrum and there is no single best answer either. Everyone must challenge their own intellect and form their own opinions on why, or why not, which brings about the focus of this rant. The driving question for those of us already dedicated to human space exploration should not be "Why Mars", but rather "What?" Mars. As in, what will you do to help set the human race on the path to Mars? It is as cliché as "everyone has to do their part" and as direct as John F. Kennedy’s famous speech "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." See article.
g Learning - There’s a neat set of online activities, primarily for older teens or young adults, about communicating with extraterrestrial intelligence here. It helps students learn about SETI while they send one another messages then decode them, as if they were alien civilizations on distant worlds.
g Imagining - What about the invading aliens from the X-Files: Are they plausible? A book released a few years ago that addresses the topic is “The Science of the X-Files”, by Jeanne Cavelos. There’s a review of the book (look near the end for a discussion on the extraterrestrial biology).
g Aftermath - What would be the affect on humanity following contact with alien life? Portions of a Brookings Institute report offer some insights. See report.

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