Tuesday, December 06, 2005

When galaxies collide, memory formation’s dynamic pattern and get that telescope out of the closet

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 - When galaxies collide - as our galaxy, the Milky Way, eventually will with the nearby Andromeda galaxy - what happens to matter that gets spun off in the collision's wake? With help from the Spitzer Space Telescope, Cornell astronomers are beginning to piece together an answer to that question. See article.
g Abodes - About 44 acres of coastline collapsed into the ocean last week, setting loose a glowing stream of lava that shot out from the newly exposed cliffside 45 feet above the water. See article.
g Life - Lichen, those colored crusts that sprout on bare rocks, dead wood, frozen soil, and other inhospitable sites, can tolerate the extreme conditions of outer space. In this interview with Astrobiology Magazine, Rosa de la Torre talks about the potential for lichen to travel between the planets and to colonize Mars. See article.
g Intelligence - Memory formation follows a dynamic pattern, allowing for retrieval from different areas of the brain, depending on when an organism needs to remember, said a researcher at Baylor College of Medicine. See article.
g Message - Just exactly how does SETI work? See primer.
g Cosmicus - Salvatore Torquato and colleagues have published a paper in the Nov. 25 issue of Physical Review Letters, the leading physics journal, outlining a mathematical approach that would enable them to produce desired configurations of nanoparticles by manipulating the manner in which the particles interact with one another. If the theory bears out - and it is in its infancy - it could have radical implications not just for industries like telecommunications and computers but also for our understanding of the nature of life. See article.
g Learning - During the next several years, skywatchers around the globe will periodically get a chance to watch the Moon pass in front of the most beautiful of all star clusters, the Pleiades. It will happen thirteen times in 2006 alone, beginning in January. The easy-to-view events provide an excellent excuse to pull an old telescope out of the closet or buy a new one. See article.
g Imagining - Could the universe be populated by aggressive intelligent species, such as science fiction’s Alien and Predator? SETI senior astronomer Seth Shostak offers some thoughts.
g Aftermath - How might we characterize the political significance of any announcement of discovering extraterrestrial intelligence? How about using the Torino Scale, which characterizes asteroid impacts, as a model to assist the discussion and interpretation of any claimed discovery of ETI? See article.

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