Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spacetime dent, stars that might yield extraterrestrials and relating science fiction to astrobiology

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 spinning black hole in the constellation Scorpius has created a stable dent in the fabric of spacetime, scientists say. See article.
g Abodes - Microbes may be riding high in the atmosphere of Earths sister planet, Venus. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
gLife - In this interview with Gerda Horneck, she shares her concerns about sending humans to Mars. She also explains why our own bacteria, after being exposed to the harsh radiation of outer space, won’t come back to haunt us. See article.
g Intelligence - Just over 3 million years ago, an ape in Africa began to walk on two legs and took the first step on the long road to civilization. Along the way, we discovered flint tools, fire and farming. But what is it that makes us truly human? See article.
g Message - A U.S. astronomer has announced her shortlist of stars where extraterrestrial life might be found. See article. For related story, see “Shortlist of stellar candidates for habitable worlds”.
g Cosmicus - Testing is under way by engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., to lay the foundation for developing the Crew Launch Vehicle, the agency's future launch vehicle system. See article.
g Learning - Finally, some common sense: The state bill that University of Wisconsin-Madison scientists helped draft is getting attention by proponents and opponents nationwide. The bill would ban the teaching of intelligent design as science in the state's public schools. See article.
g Imagining - The secrets of the universe remain a mystery to us, but that doesn’t stop us from making guesses. An author who writes a science fiction novel tries to base it around the technology and knowledge that we have available to us. Those tidbits of knowledge are then exaggerated to great lengths, and then set into the future, on other planets, in other dimensions in time, or under new variants of scientific law. This process is called extrapolation, and becomes the premise of the story. Here’s a Web page that works in reverse, by taking the scientific aspects from classic works of science fiction and explaining how they relate to astrobiology.
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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