Monday, December 26, 2005

Space settlement, ‘A Case of the Wobbles’ and Olympics calling card to ET

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 - Only a few types of stars are likely to support planetary systems. For a planetary system to exist, the presence of dust, or at least some type of solid material, is necessary. Without several generations of stellar cycling to produce these elements, no planets could form. See article.
g Abodes - A University of California, Berkeley, study of methane-producing bacteria frozen at the bottom of Greenland's two-mile thick ice sheet could help guide scientists searching for similar bacterial life on Mars. See article.
g Life - To appear in the fossil record prominently, an animal needs to leave a hard remnant after death, like a shell or bone. The earliest candidates for many are the 400-million year old forbears of crabs and lobsters, which are now linked in the fossil record to one of the most barren places on the planet, Siberia. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Intelligence - Neurobiologists have gained new insights into how neurons control growth of the intricate tracery of branches called dendrites that enable them to connect with their neighbors. Dendritic connections are the basic receiving stations by which neurons form the signaling networks that constitute the brain's circuitry. See article.
g Message - Our most efficient attempts to broadcast our planet's existence to another civilization would resemble the thermal radiation emitted by stars. By analogy, more advanced worlds would likely do the same, making our chances of listening in hard to distinguish from hearing stellar noise. See article. Note: This article is from late 2004.
g Cosmicus - Space settlement is a unique concept for colonization beyond the Earth. While most thinking regarding the expansion of the human race outward into space has focused on the colonization of the surfaces of other planets, the space settlement concept suggests that planetary surfaces may not be the best location for extraterrestrial colonies. Artificial, closed-ecology habitats in free orbit would seem to have many advantages over any planetary home (Earth included). See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “A Case of the Wobbles”. Students plot and analyze NASA data to determine the period of an invisible planet orbiting a wobbling star.
g Imagining - In popular fiction and conspiracy theories, life forms, especially intelligent life forms, that are of extraterrestrial origin, i.e. not coming from the Earth are referred to as alien and collectively as aliens. Prime examples of how aliens are viewed are found in the movies Alien, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Signs, Independence Day, and The War of the Worlds. This usage is clearly anthropocentric: When humans in fictional accounts accomplish interstellar travel and land on a planet elsewhere in the universe, the local inhabitants of these other planets are usually still referred to as "alien," even though they are the native life form and the humans are the intruders. In general they are seen as unfriendly life forms. This may be seen as a reversion to the classic meaning of "alien" as referring to "other," in contrast to "us" in the context of the writer's frame of reference. See article.
g Aftermath - As preparations for the return of the Olympics Games to their ancestral home in Athens neared completion, some began to wonder whether the Olympics has been our diplomatic calling card in other places beyond the home planet. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

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