Sunday, January 29, 2006

Space-time indentation, asteroid belt breakup and National Space Lottery

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 - MIT scientists and colleagues have found a black hole that has chiseled a remarkably stable indentation in the fabric of space and time, like a dimple in one's favorite spot on the sofa. The finding may help scientists measure a black hole's mass and how it spins, two long-sought measurements, by virtue of the extent of this indentation. Using NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, the team saw identical patterns in the X-ray light emitted near the black hole nine years apart, as captured in archived data from 1996 and in a new, unprecedented 550-hour observation from 2005. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), Southwest Research Institute, and Charles University in the Czech Republic have made the first positive link between a breakup event in the main asteroid belt and a large quantity of interplanetary dust particles deposited on Earth. See article.
g Life - Conifers suffer a severe plumbing problem. The "pipes" that carry water through firs, pines and other conifers are 10 times shorter than those in flowering trees. But a University of Utah study suggests why conifers not only survive but thrive: efficient microscopic valves let water flow through conifers about as easily as it flows through other trees. See article.
g Intelligence - Do you have second thoughts when ordering a strange-sounding dish at an exotic restaurant? Afraid you'll get fricasseed eye of newt, or something even worse? If you do, it's because certain neurons in the brain are saying that the potential reward for the risk is unknown. These regions of the brain have now been pinpointed by experimental economists at the California Institute of Technology and the University of Iowa College of Medicine. See article.
g Message - No single topic gets SETI folks more excited than their new pet project, the Allen Telescope Array. See article. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Cosmicus - Many have spoken of our goals in space, but few offer ways to pay for them. A National Space Lottery could be a new way of funding space flight systems, promoting space tourism and paying for the tickets of those who would fly. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site for kids, courtesy of the Canadian Space Agency — Kidspace.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Gary A. Braunbeck’s short story "Kite People," anthologized in “First Contact,” edited by Martin H. Greenberg & Larry Segriff (published by DAW in 1997).
g Aftermath - Though an older Web posting, “After Contact, Then What?” shows how little we’ve thought about this question.

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