Friday, January 13, 2006

Half a dozen new stars every year, Stardust’s return and how mirrors work

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 - Astronomers have the best evidence yet pinning down how just many stars form in our galaxy every year: about half a dozen. See article.
g Abodes - With its precious cargo of comet bits nestled inside, NASA's Stardust spacecraft is soaring inbound for Sunday's fiery descent and landing in Utah that will cap a 2.88-billion mile voyage spanning 7 years of looping around the solar system. See article.
g Life - Are we alone in the universe? Philosophers and astronomers have looked to the stars to answer this question for hundreds of years. But now, some scientists are hoping to learn more about alien life forms by looking not into outer space, but at some of the most extreme environments here on Earth. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Intelligence - Psychologists at the University of Liverpool have found that people still find it difficult to understand how mirrors work. See article.
g Message - Chances are, there is life beyond Earth. But if anyone makes contact, the messages may be thousands of years old and indecipherable. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Cosmicus - Book alert: We have been very lucky of late to have a great many books being written about the early days of the space program, often with direct input from those who took part. One of the latest offerings is "The Real Space Cowboys" (Apogee, $29.95), by Ed Buckbee and astronaut Wally Schirra. See reviews.
g Learning - Here’s a neat new set of classroom activities, courtesy of NASA: “Microbial Life.” It’s a new, freely accessible digital library dedicated to the diversity, ecology, and evolution of the microbial world. Engage students with hands-on activities and other curriculum-based resources that cover topics such as astrobiology, bioinformatics, extremophiles, and the microbes of marine environments. See article.
g Imagining - Long before modern SETI experiments - and even before the invention of the telescope - people looked into the sky and reasoned that there must be life on planetary bodies beyond Earth. In fact, ideas about extraterrestrial life go back at least as far as the ancient Greeks - more than 2000 years ago. Hear how our thinking about ET has evolved since antiquity, from the ideas about life on the moon, Mars and worlds beyond - to one theory about life on the Sun! See podcast of this SETI Institute “Are We Alone?” program.
g Aftermath - In its simplest and shortest definition, astrobiology may be summed up as, “The study of life in the universe.” There's just one problem when it comes to studying life in the universe. So far, we're it. See article.

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