Thursday, January 19, 2006

Search for star dust, world’s first baby boom and big wheels on Mars

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 - Astronomy buffs who jumped at the chance to use their home computers in the SETI@home search for intelligent life in the universe will soon be able to join an Internet-based search for dust grains originating from stars millions of light years away. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists at the Johnson Space Center in Houston were excited and awed by what they saw when the sample-return canister from the Stardust spacecraft was opened. Stardust returned to Earth in a spectacular re-entry early Sunday after a 7-year mission to collect particles from comet Wild 2. The comet dates from the formation of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. See article.
g Life - Richard Lenski turns up the temperature to lethal degrees. Michael Travisano pits ferocious creatures against more peace loving ones. Andrew Ellington feeds his charges poison and hits them with chemical mutagens. These men aren't sadists or arbitrary executioners - they're just curious. In order to understand where life began, how today's creatures developed and perhaps influence where we may be heading, scientists are recreating evolution. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Intelligence - In an important new study assessing the demographic impact of the shift from foraging to farming, anthropologists use evidence from 60 prehistoric American cemeteries to prove that the invention of agriculture led to a significant worldwide increase in birth rate. See article.
g Message - While advanced civilizations might be tempted to use optical means such as lasers to send information between the stars, there are some good reasons that nearly all the major Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence experiments are looking for radio waves instead. See article.
g Cosmicus - The next wheels on the red planet will belong to the Mars Science Laboratory — a huge step in how that planet is further poked, probed, and more fully plumbed for new information. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a great Web site for kids: “Dive and Discover.” The site is designed to immerse you in the excitement of exploring the oceans. Dive and Discover brings you on board research expeditions that use deep-sea tools and vehicles, allowing you to become part of teams of scientists and engineers making new discoveries. See site.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Poul Anderson’s novel “The Enemy Stars” (published by Lippincott in 1959).
g Aftermath - For centuries scientists, novelists and ordinary people have imagined what would happen if the human race had contact with an extra-terrestrial civilization. Professor Paul Davies, from the Australian Center for Astrobiology, Sydney, offers his thoughts in this interview. See interview.

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