Sunday, March 26, 2006

Extreme helium stars, targeting Titan for exploration and thank fish for our brains

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 international group of astronomers has used Hubble Space Telescope to determine the origin of a very unusual and rare type of star. The group's studies indicate that the so-called "extreme helium stars" are formed by the merger of two white dwarf stars. See article.
g Abodes - A leading planetary scientist said that Titan, one of Saturn’s moons, should be targeted for a new round of outer planet exploration. See article.
g Life - Scientists have identified a new dinosaur species that had one of the longest necks relative to body length ever measured. See article.
g Intelligence - Human brains are bigger and better than any of our closest living or dead non-human relatives in relation to body weight. Scientists say we have fish and frogs to thank for this. See article.
g Message - What technological manifestations would make an advanced extraterrestrial civilization detectable? See paper. Note: This paper was written in 1992.
g Cosmicus - Work is underway in preparing for the inaugural rocket blastoff from the New Mexico spaceport grounds. See article.
g Learning - A research team has discovered a part of the brain crucial for counting and performing arithmetic. The new finding could lead to a better understanding of dyscalculia, a psychological disorder that makes it nearly impossible to deal with numbers, much less complicated math. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Ron Montana’s "Loosely Translated", anthologized in “Alien Encounters” (edited by Jan Finder).
g Aftermath - If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose and learn about the thinking behind them.

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