Saturday, December 03, 2005

Rise of oxygen, ‘Interstellar Messaging’ and the spaceflight movement

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 - Scientists using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory have witnessed a cosmic rite of passage, the transition from a supernova to a supernova remnant, a process that has never seen in much detail until now, leaving it poorly defined. See article.
g Abodes - A number of hypotheses have been used to explain how free oxygen first accumulated in Earth's atmosphere some 2.4 billion years ago, but a full understanding has proven elusive. Now a new model offers plausible scenarios for how oxygen came to dominate the atmosphere, and why it took at least 300 million years after bacterial photosynthesis started producing oxygen in large quantities. See article.
g Life - When it comes to feet, the earliest known bird species had more in common with Velociraptors than cardinals. See article.
g Intelligence - Special neurons in the brainstem of rats focus exclusively on new, novel sounds and help them ignore predictable and ongoing noises, a new study finds. The same process likely occurs in humans and may affect our speech and even help us laugh. See article.
g Message - Here’s a neat Web site: “Interstellar Messaging.” You’ll find discussion, history and real-world examples of mankind's methods and ongoing attempts to communicate with extraterrestrials. See article.
g Cosmicus - The aim of the spaceflight movement - exploration and colonization of the universe - is so vast and revolutionary that it cannot be achieved by the ordinary operation of day-to-day social forces and institutions. Consequently, we must be prepared to think in imaginative ways if we are to understand how this "giant step" in human history may come about. See article.
g Learning - Are we alone? Are humans unique in the universe, or is our existence the natural outcome of universal processes that produced complex life on Earth and elsewhere? As we observe the universe beyond Earth, we find that we are fundamentally a part of it. To understand the relationship of humanity to stardust requires understanding evolution in its broadest sense. See article. Note: This article on teaching evolution in schools is from January 2001.
g Imagining - Here’s a neat site that draws upon the history of science fiction for examples: “Let’s Build an Extraterrestrial”.
g Aftermath - Would dutiful American citizens trust the government to handle first contact with extraterrestrials and rush to get information to the public? See article. Note: This article is from 1999.

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