Friday, February 03, 2006

Fill ‘er up for star formation, falling albedo and skiing on the moon and

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 - New findings from a large survey of galaxies suggest that star formation is largely driven by the supply of raw materials, rather than by galactic mergers that trigger sudden bursts of star formation. Stars form when clouds of gas and dust collapse under the force of gravity, and the study supports a scenario in which exhaustion of a galaxy's gas supply leads to a gradual decline in the star-formation rate. See article.
g Abodes - After dropping for about 15 years, the amount of sunlight Earth reflects back into space, called albedo, has increased since 2000, a new study concludes. See article.
g Life - A butterfly's wing is a uniquely visual exhibition, not only of the aesthetics of nature, but of the machinery of evolution. See article. Note: This article is from 2004. For related story, see “Butterflies 'follow flightpaths'".
g Intelligence - Research published in the recent issue of Ethology has discovered that men are able to potentially use smell as a mechanism to establish when their current or prospective sexual partners are at their most fertile. See article.
g Message - You don’t have to leave Earth to find intelligent life on other worlds. All you have to do is tune in ... at the right time ... on the right frequency ... in the right direction ... with the right spectrometer ... using the most powerful supercomputer on this planet. See article. Note: this article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - In the past year, the United States, India, China, Japan and the European Space Agency have all made plans to head to the moon sometime in the next two decades. An recent NASA article has valuable tips from Apollo astronauts on an alternative means of lunar travel first suggested by science fiction writer Robert Heinlein - namely, skiing. See article.
g Learning - High school courses have traditionally been compartmentalized into biology, chemistry, physical or earth science, and perhaps physics or an elective such as astronomy or oceanography. This may, in the best of cases, prepare students for the "almighty test," but does it really prepare students for scientific literacy and logical decision-making? See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Orson Scott Card’s novel “Ender's Game,” published by Tor in 1985.
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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