Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Warped Milky Way, journey to an impact crater and looking for ET at Pi GHz

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 - The most prominent of the Milky Way's satellite galaxies - a pair of galaxies called the Magellanic Clouds - appears to be interacting with the Milky Way's ghostly dark matter to create a mysterious warp in the galactic disk that has puzzled astronomers for half a century. See article. For related story, see “Milky Way Galaxy Is Warped And Vibrating Like A Drum”.
g Abodes - Travel with Aaron Gronstal on a drilling expedition in Chesapeake Bay, the site of a 35 million-year-old impact crater. This portion of his journal is part 1 of a 4-part series. See article.
g Life - Scientific insights come at the darnedest times. Animal behaviorist Sean O'Donnell was having an afternoon cup of coffee when a giant earthworm exploded out of the leaf litter covering the jungle floor in an Ecuadorean nature preserve. A column of hundreds of raiding army ants that quickly paralyzed or killed it pursued the worm, later measured at nearly 16 inches long. See article.
g Intelligence - Placing your foot down when walking was thought to be a predetermined process: lift foot, decide where to put it based on what’s on the ground, and if nothing moves, land it down on the original target. Scientists thought this procedure requires no immediate visual information once the foot was lifted off the ground. But a new study has found that continuous visual guidance mechanisms may be needed for accurate foot placement. See article.
g Message - Is there any good reason to look for intelligently generated extraterrestrial emissions in the spectrum at Pi GHz or 3.141...GHz. See article.
g Cosmicus - In an exclusive SPACE.com interview with NASA’s Michael Coats, the newly appointed Johnson Space Center director detailed the challenges he faces in the new post. See article.
g Learning - A federal judge in Fresno is scheduled to hold a hearing today on whether to halt a Frazier Mountain High School science class midway through the month-long winter term because the teacher introduced intelligent design. See article.
g Imagining - A complaint lodged again and again against science fiction aliens is that they look too much like us. Is that complaint valid? Is it so unlikely that extraterrestrials would look at least similar (though not identical) to humans? If so, then what would beings, intelligent or not so intelligent, who evolved on another world look like? That's what Cliff Pickover explores in The Science of Aliens.Though the book is a few years old, it’s still worth reading. Here’s a review of it and an interview with the author.
g Aftermath - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Terry A. Adams’ “Sentience: A Novel of First Contact.” It was published by DAW in 1986.

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