Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Galaxy-sized tunnel, Titan’s clouds and ‘Dawn’

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - A team of astronomers is announcing today that they have discovered a giant Milky Way-sized tunnel filled with high energy particles in a distant galaxy cluster. These new findings are of special interest to astronomers as they may provide the missing evolutionary link necessary to understand the cycle of birth and death, as well as the environmental impact, of radio jets which result from ravenous supermassive black holes within giant galaxies. See article.
g Abodes - Using recent Cassini, Huygens and Earth-based observations, scientists have been able to create a computer model which explains the formation of several types of ethane and methane clouds on Titan. See For related story, see “Moons in perspective” at
g Life - On board the Space Shuttle Columbia mission STS-107, researchers were studying the growth and reproductive behavior of the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans, but the mission ended in tragedy in 2003 when the shuttle broke up during reentry. Remarkably, the worms, housed in specially designed canisters, survived the virtually unprotected reentry into the Earth's atmosphere and were recovered alive during the extensive recovery effort following the crash. See
g Intelligence - Newborn adult brain cells travel along a neural highway from their place of birth to their final destination. Now scientists have shown that tiny, beating, hair-like structures called cilia play an important role in helping the new cells merge onto the highway's on-ramp. See
g Message - However, since the invention of the radio, humans have been broadcasting signals into outer space. Other civilizations in our galaxy might be doing the same. They might even be deliberately sending out signals to find other civilizations. Someone out there may even be beaming a signal directly at the Earth. See
g Cosmicus - NASA and its supporters in Congress have won a behind-the-scenes battle with White House budget writers who suggested retiring one or more of the shuttles early and canceling some remaining flights to save money. See
g Learning - "Teacher, why do I need to learn this?" "What’s it good for?" Students ask these questions when faced with content that seems unrelated to their lives. Motivating students is fundamental to promoting achievement in any classroom, even in science, which encompasses the entire natural world, the whole universe. Good questions and quality experiences support science learning for all students, not just those who are already science-friendly. The relatively new discipline of astrobiology asks great questions that intrigue students. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Octavia Butler’s novel “Dawn,” published by Warner in 1987.
g Aftermath - Among scientists involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, it’s quite common to be focused on the future, ever mindful that it could take years, or even decades, to find a signal from otherworldly intelligence. But if historian Steve Dick has his way, astronomers will also turn their attention toward the past as they search for life beyond Earth — to discover the aftereffects of contact between two intelligent cultures. See http:///. Note: This article is from 2003.