Friday, February 10, 2006

First bright objects in the universe, challenging Cope’s Rule and Darwin’s birthday celebrations

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 - A tiny galaxy has given astronomers a glimpse of a time when the first bright objects in the universe formed, ending the dark ages that followed the birth of the universe. See article.
g Abodes - NASA’s Spirit Mars rover has arrived at a site dubbed "Home Plate" within Gusev crater. But what the robot found has left scientists puzzled. See article.
g Life - Biologists have long believed that bigger is better when it comes to body size, since many lineages of animals, from horses to dinosaurs, have evolved into larger species over time. But a new study suggests that maxim, known as “Cope’s Rule,” may be only partly true. See article. For related story, see “Tiny Tyrant—Fossil May Be Mini T. Rex Cousin” (note: this article is from 2002).
g Intelligence - While high school freshmen sometimes struggle with parallelograms and the Pythagorean Theorem, people deep in the Amazon quickly grasp some basic concepts of geometry. The finding suggests all humans, regardless of language or schooling, possess a core set of geometrical intuitions. See article.
g Message - The Allen Telescope Array will consist of approximately 350 6.1-meter offset Gregorian dishes arrayed at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory site. Given the number of antennas and large size of the primary beam (approximately 4 degrees at 21 cm wavelength), this array will have an unprecedented amount of flexibility in observing. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA engineers have successfully tested a new breed of reaction control engine and propulsion system. Aimed at furthering NASA's space exploration goals, the tests helped investigate the possibility of future space travel fueled by non-toxic propellants. See article.
g Learning - Thanks to the "intelligent design'' movement, Charles Darwin's birthday is evolving into everything from a badminton party to church sermons this weekend. "The people who believe in evolution ... really just sort of need to stand up and be counted,'' said Richard Leventhal, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. "Evolution is the model that drives science. It's time to recognize that.'' See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Arthur C. Clarke’s novel “2001: A Space Odyssey,” published by NAL in 1968.
g Aftermath - What should we say to an extraterrestrial? Try the World Wide Web. SETI astronomer Seth Shostak opines at article.

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