Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Doomed star orbits black hole, life’s most basic ingredients found amid stardust and standing up to ‘intelligent design’

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 Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer have found a doomed star orbiting what appears to be a medium-sized black hole - a theorized "in-between" category of black hole that has eluded confirmation and frustrated scientists for more than a decade. See article.
g Abodes - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered some of life's most basic ingredients in the dust swirling around a young star. The ingredients - gaseous precursors to DNA and protein - were detected in the star's terrestrial planet zone, a region where rocky planets such as Earth are thought to be born. See article.
g Life - Safeguarding 595 sites around the world would help stave off an imminent global extinction crisis, according to new research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Conducted by scientists working with the 52 member organizations of the Alliance for Zero Extinction, the study identifies 794 species threatened with imminent extinction, each of which is in need of urgent conservation action at a single remaining site on Earth. See article.
g Intelligence - A research team proposes that the time when the most recent common ancestor of humans and their closest ape relatives - the chimpanzees - lived was between 5 and 7 million years ago - a sharper focus than previous estimates of anywhere from 3 to 13 million years ago. Gene studies are needed because the interpretations of the earliest fossils of humans at the ape/human boundary are controversial and almost no fossils of chimpanzees have been discovered. See article.
g Message - Stelio Montebugnoli, the director of the radiotelescope installations at Medicina (close to Bologna, Italy), predicts we probably won’t make contact with an extraterrestrial civilization for at least 15 more years. See article.
g Cosmicus - Astronomers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center have recorded a small but powerful meteoroid strike in the night on the moon's surface. As astronauts prepare for future missions to the moon, the space agency has a need to understand what happens after lunar impacts in order to protect explorers. See article.
g Learning - A rural high school teaching a religion-based alternative to evolution was sued Tuesday by a group of parents who said the class should be stopped because it violates the U.S. Constitution. See article.
g Imagining - While science fiction has come a long way from the days of bug-eyed monsters, the genre still hasn't gone far enough in presenting well-conceived alien beings. As a derivative genre, role-playing games have an even poorer record. See article.
g Aftermath - Alien encounters and science fiction permeate pop culture, but what would it really mean if scientists found life beyond Earth? If even a single-celled organism on another planet was discovered, for many, this would be the last thread of evidence proving that life is simply chemistry. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.

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