Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Whirling Vega, evo devo and a first contact story

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 bright star Vega is whirling so fast that it's equator is several thousand degrees cooler than its poles, scientists say. See article.
g Abodes - How much water does life need to survive? See article.
g Life - Biologists at Georgia Tech have provided scientific support for a controversial hypothesis that has divided the fields of evolutionary genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, popularly known as evo devo, for two years. Appearing in the December 2005 issue of Trends in Genetics, researchers find that the size and complexity of a species’ genome is not an evolutionary adaptation per se, but can result as simply a consequence of a reduction in a species’ effective population size. See article.
g Intelligence - Some whale species sing in different dialects depending on where they're from, a new study shows. See article.
g Message - The Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, or SETA, is about delineating between the artificial and the real. In the case of radio detection from other stellar systems, the artificial is what is labeled the real signal that intelligent communications are on-air. See article. Note: This article is a couple of years old.
g Cosmicus - A group of telescopes using the world’s biggest digital cameras will soon start scanning the sky from the Hawaiian Islands, tracking down thousands of the smaller, dimmer and overlooked objects in the Sun’s neighborhood. The reason? Hunting for those dangerous space rocks that still elude detection. See article.
g Learning - Justice in California: A rural school district agreed to stop teaching a religion-based alternative to evolution as part of a court settlement filed Tuesday. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read “Encounter with Tiber,” by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes (published by Warner in 1996).
g Aftermath - Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See article.

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