Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Glass-wrapped galaxies, keeping an open mind and new space station assembly sequence

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 - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has observed a rare population of colliding galaxies whose entangled hearts are wrapped in tiny crystals resembling crushed glass. This is the first time silicate crystals have been detected in a galaxy outside of our own. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists from NASA and Columbia University, New York, have used computer modeling to successfully reproduce an abrupt climate change that took place 8,200 years ago. At that time, the beginning of the current warm period, a massive flood of freshwater into the North Atlantic Ocean caused climate changes. See article.
gLife - For scientists eying distant planets and solar systems for signs of alien activity, University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Carol Cleland suggests the first order of business is to keep an open mind. See article.
g Intelligence - Women who feel that they become more forgetful as menopause approaches shouldn't just "fuhgetabout it": There may be something to their own widespread reports that they're more likely to forget things as menopause approaches, say scientists who reported results from a small study today at the annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society in Boston. See article.
g Message - Humankind has been unintentionally transmitting signals into space - primarily high-frequency radio, television, and radar - for more than fifty years. Our earliest TV broadcasts have reached several thousand nearby stars, although any alien viewers would have to build a very large antenna (thousands of acres in size) to detect them. See article.
g Cosmicus - NASA and its international partners unveiled a new space station assembly sequence Thursday, one that takes into account the looming 2010 end of the shuttle program by deferring science operations in favor of construction flights to ensure completion of the orbital outpost. See article. For related story, see “Russian Spacecraft Vital to Boost ISS Crew Size”.
g Learning - Here’s a neat introduction to astronomy: If you could approach the Milky Way from afar and then soar to its center, what would you find? See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Robert Heinlein’s (as Anson MacDonald) short story "Goldfish Bowl," originally published in the March 1942 Astounding magazine.
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article.

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