Friday, January 06, 2006

Imagining a moon base, astrobiology glossary and ‘Social Implications of the Detection of Extraterrestrial Civilizations’

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 - Here’s a neat Web site that presents an illustrated introduction to stars and their basic chemical composition. The focus is on the spectroscopic techniques that are used for monitoring and studying stars, in particular, prism spectroscopes, grating spectroscopes, and the kind of spectra that are observed. See article.
g Abodes - Some of the highest lakes in the world can be found at the summits of volcanic mountains in the Andes, straddling the border between Chile and Bolivia. The High Lakes 2005 research team has just completed an expedition to explore two of those lakes. The lakes offer researchers an opportunity to study life in an extreme environment on Earth that in many ways mimic conditions on Mars. Expedition leader, Nathalie Cabrol, concludes her series of captain's logs. See article.
g Life - New research has identified the fundamental differences between two- and four-legged animals that explain what limits their top speeds. A human running into a high-speed corner is forced to slow down and increase the amount of time their foot is in contact with the ground in order to withstand increased centripetal forces. Four legged animals do not appear to have this limitation. See article.
g Intelligence - Surprisingly, people with mild depression are actually more tuned into the feelings of others than those who aren't depressed, a team of Queen's psychologists has discovered. The researchers were so taken aback by the findings, they decided to replicate the study with another group of participants. The second study produced the same results: People with mild symptoms of depression pay more attention to details of their social environment than those who are not depressed. See article.
g Message - Some people sit in the tub, yell "Eureka", and come up with a brand new view of matter. Others can be riding a trolley home and at the sight of a clock initiate a whole new concept of time. Yet another more pedantic method is to follow government procedures to resolve riddles. Steven Dick and James Strick in their book, “The Living Universe - NASA and the development of Astrobiology,” narrate how this occurred for the new academic field of astrobiology. Though perhaps not as film-worthy as instantaneous flashes, the four decades of meetings, workshops and programs described therein show that this distinct academic area had an eventful and exciting coming of age. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - In viewing Earth, moon and Mars, few could or would ask to look ahead five hundred years. When presenting his views to the blue-ribbon Presidential Panel, author Ray Bradbury took on the challenge of imagining a moon base and a Mars' civilization. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Learning - Don’t quite know what a word you’ve come across in an astrobiology article means? Here’s a handy glossary.
g Imagining - Like stories about efforts to communicate with alien? Then be sure to read Fred Hoyle’s “A for Andromeda” (1962). See review.
g Aftermath - Book alert: What happens if SETI succeeds? Several dozen experts from the fields of sociology, technology and education consider the social consequences of finding a signal in “Social Implications of the Detection of Extraterrestrial Civilizations,” by John Billingham, Roger Heyns, David Milne and Seth Shostak (editors). Based on workshops held in 1991 and 1992, this is the definitive opus on the likely impact of an extraterrestrial signal. Don't believe all you see on TV, nor what you read in the chat groups: here is reasoned prognostication on what could be the biggest event in human history. See review.

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