Thursday, March 02, 2006

High-energy radiation, mammals among dinosaurs and future Shenzhou missions

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 - Cosmic space is filled with continuous, diffuse high-energy radiation. To find out how this energy is produced, the scientists behind ESA’s Integral gamma-ray observatory have tried an unusual method: observing Earth from space. See article.
g Abodes - The two moons discovered around Pluto last year were likely formed from the same giant impact that created the planet’s much larger satellite, Charon, scientists say. See article. For related story, see “New Hubble images offer best view of Pluto, moons”.
g Life - Newfound remains of a beaver-like creature suggest that mammals swam with dinosaurs. See article.
g Intelligence - As you age, so do your cells. A new study reveals that old cells make up a much larger portion of skin cells than previously thought. See article.
g Message - Is anyone out there? The chance of spotting signals from extraterrestrials is about to soar, say SETI Institute scientists, who, together with radio astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley have begun building the first telescope to look around the clock for life on other planets. See article.
g Cosmicus - Chinese space planners have outlined the objectives for the next several missions of their piloted Shenzhou missions. Next up is Shenzhou 7, China’s third human spaceflight that will liftoff in 2008 and include a space walk. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat introduction to constellations to help get kids interested in stargazing.
g Imagining - Skull Island’s commendably diverse population (of “King Kong” fame) isn’t very realistic. In such isolated habitats, competition among species is limited. The consequence is that, with time, predator species tend to get smaller while prey species grow larger. The optimum size (at least for mammals) seems to be roughly that of a rabbit. Kong is bigger than many rabbits. See article.
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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