Monday, March 06, 2006

Compressed neutron stars, heading to Pluto and new lemur species

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 - An team of astronomers using the CSIRO Parkes radio telescope in eastern Australia has found a new kind of cosmic object - small, compressed “neutron stars” that show no activity most of the time but once in a while spit out a single burst of radio waves. See article.
g Abodes - As the New Horizons mission to Pluto prepared for launch in January, NASA presented a webcast in which mission scientists answered questions from the public. In this edited transcript, project scientist Harold Weaver Jr. talks about what we could learn about Pluto and the outer solar system when the spacecraft arrives at its destination nine years from now. See article.
gLife - Researchers have identified three new species of lemurs, the small, big-eyed primates native to the island of Madagascar. See article.
g Intelligence - Scientists believe they have created the perfect male face, a man so handsome that any woman would automatically pick him out of a crowd. See article. Note: this article is from 2002.
g Message - In 1974, the most powerful broadcast ever deliberately beamed into space was made from Puerto Rico. The broadcast formed part of the ceremonies held to mark a major upgrade to the Arecibo Radio Telescope. The transmission consisted of a simple, pictorial message, aimed at our putative cosmic companions in the globular star cluster M13. See article.
g Cosmicus - The Near Earth Asteroids offer both threat and promise. They present the threat of planetary impact with regional or global disaster. And they also offer the promise of resources to support humanity's long-term prosperity on Earth, and our movement into space and the solar system. See article.
g Learning - Understanding the origins of human diseases could help identify fresh avenues toward their prevention and treatment. At the very least, an appreciation of the evolutionary history of humans and other animals should make for better medical doctors and physician-scientists, which is why the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine is collaborating with Carnegie Museum of Natural History to offer its students educational and research opportunities unlike any available at other medical schools. The partnership, the Natural History of Medicine Initiative, is the first of its kind involving a medical school and natural history museum. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Charles Henneberg’s short story "The Blind Pilot," originally published in the January 1960 F&SF magazine.
g Aftermath - Even if the public seems less than awestruck by the prospect that alien life is a bunch of microscopic bugs, astrobiologists say unequivocal discovery of microbial life beyond Earth will change human society in profound ways, some unfathomable today. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.

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