Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Star ringing like a bell, ‘Atom’ and New Mexico spaceport

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 used telescopes in Australia and Chile as a stellar stethoscope to "hear" - more clearly than ever before - a star that is ringing like a bell. 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, continues her series of captain's logs. See article.
g Life - Book alert: A single oxygen atom's odyssey from the big bang to life on earth is the centerpiece of physicist Lawrence Krauss' 2004 book, “Atom.” The epoch-spanning journey follows starlight itself towards complex biology: what it is, where it came from, and where it's going. See review.
g Intelligence - The mysterious half-smile that has intrigued viewers of the Mona Lisa for centuries isn't really that difficult to interpret, Dutch researchers say. See article.
g Message - Put yourself in the situation of the aliens, out there somewhere in the galaxy. They surmise that Earth looks promising for the emergence of intelligent life one day, but they have no idea when. There would be little point in beaming radio messages in this direction for eons in the vague hope that one day radio technology would be developed here and someone would decide to tune in, says one astrobiologist. See article. Note: this article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - Creation of a spaceport in New Mexico to handle excursions of commuters to the edge of space is a work in progress. But not only are sky-high dreamers needed. Lots of political propulsion fueled by high financing is also crucial. See article.
g Learning - Book alert: “Alien Life: The Search for Extraterrestrials and Beyond,” by Barry Parker, just enough hard science to stretch the mind of the average well-read "X-Files" or "Star Trek" watcher, delivered in a calm and decidedly unmelodramatic style. Good reading, if you need to catch up to impress your scientifically oriented younger relatives during the holidays. See review.
g Imagining - Quantum physics and biochemistry is real, hard as nails science, say many physicists and also, it appears, those who write SF books and screenplays. But, reproductive biologist Jack Cohen asks, “Is biology a science?” And what affect does the answer have on our ability to imagine and recognize extraterrestrial life? See article.
g Aftermath - In the last quarter of the 20th century, an international social movement — Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence — has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials already have been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article.