Friday, January 20, 2006

Monster black holes, Stardust’s return and Bracewell probes

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 - An analysis of the Hubble Space Telescope's deepest view of the universe offers compelling evidence that monster black holes in the centers of galaxies were not born big but grew over time through repeated galactic mergers. See article.
g Abodes - When the Stardust sample return capsule returned safely home, mission scientists breathed a sigh of relief. When they opened the capsule, they gasped in delight. Now, they are whistling a happy tune as they examine the many microscopic bits of comet dust. See article.
g Life - Since we haven't found life elsewhere yet, we don't know if life can exist on other planetary bodies. So to understand how life begins we can only look at our own home. Unfortunately because the Earth is a dynamic planet, with plate tectonics and erosional processes continually distorting the rocks, the rock record of the early Earth is limited. Yet scientists have ingenious ways of understanding the early solar system, including our planet and its early life. See article.
g Intelligence - The scenario is familiar from Hollywood blockbusters like “Armageddon” and “Deep Impact.” A massive asteroid — perhaps 10 miles in diameter — is headed straight for Earth. An all-out effort to deflect it is mounted. If the mission succeeds, civilization as we know it will continue. But if natural human reactions to threats interfere, the ending could be far from uplifting. If fear and denial postpone an adequate response, dust and debris could make the daytime sky look like night, the Earth’s surface could be razed by a global firestorm, and tsunamis could obliterate coastal cities. See article.
g Message - To contact an alien civilization, humanity might want to consider a Bracewell probe — a hypothetical concept for an autonomous interstellar space probe dispatched for the express purpose of communication with (an) alien civilization(s). It was proposed by Ronald N. Bracewell in a 1960 paper, as an alternative to interstellar radio communication between widely separated civilizations. See article.
g Cosmicus - A new feat sets a new record for laser transmission in space, a process which may one day be used to communicate across interplanetary distances and provide scientists with a powerful tool to measure the movement of planets and test fundamental principles in physics. See article.
g Learning - The Astrobiology Science Conference (AbSciCon) 2006 will be held March 26-30 in Washington, D.C., at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Isaac Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves” (published by Ballentine in 1972).
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing essay that discusses what might happen if we do too little to contact extraterrestrials; as the authors argue, “…skepticism regarding SETI is at best unfounded and at worst can seriously damage the long-term prospects of humanity. If ETIs exist, no matter whether friendly or adversarial (or even beyond such simple distinctions), they are relevant for our future. To neglect this is contraryy to the basic tenets of transhumanism. To appreciate this, it is only sufficient to imagine the consequences of SETI success for any aspect of transhumanist interests, and then to affirm that such a success can only be achieved without trying if they come to us, which would obviously mean that we are hopelessly lagging in the race for galactic colonization.” See article.

Read this blogger’s books

No comments: