Sunday, March 05, 2006

Humming stars, hardwired grammar and targeting nearby stars on the search for life

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Massive, dying stars vibrate like giant speakers and emit an audible hum before exploding in one of nature's most spectacular blasts, scientists say. See
g Abodes - Data from ESA's Huygens probe have been used to validate a new model of the evolution of Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, showing that its methane supply may be locked away in a kind of methane-rich ice. See
g Life - Spinosaurus is now officially the biggest carnivorous dinosaur known to science. See
g Intelligence - University of Rochester scientists studying why characteristics of grammar are found in all languages say the use of grammar is hardwired in our brains. See http://www.sciencedaily.
g Message - In the search for life on other worlds, scientists can listen for radio transmissions from stellar neighborhoods where intelligent civilizations might lurk or they can try to actually spot planets like our own in habitable zones around nearby stars. Either approach is tricky and relies on choosing the right targets for scrutiny out of the many thousands of nearby stars in our galactic neighborhood. See
g Cosmicus - A robotic mission to haul samples back from Mars to Earth should be on NASA’s "most wanted" list, but a risk adverse space agency has left the project in limbo. See
g Learning - Here’s a cool introduction to astrobiology: A concept map of the field’s fundamental questions with links to each one:
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Lee Killough’s "The Lying Ear," anthologized in “Alien Encounters” (edited by Jan Finder).
g Aftermath - Book alert: What happens if SETI succeeds? Several dozen experts from the fields of sociology, technology and education consider the social consequences of finding a signal in “Social Implications of the Detection of Extraterrestrial Civilizations,” by John Billingham, Roger Heyns, David Milne and Seth Shostak (editors). Based on workshops held in 1991 and 1992, this is the definitive opus on the likely impact of an extraterrestrial signal. Don't believe all you see on TV, nor what you read in the chat groups: here is reasoned prognostication on what could be the biggest event in human history. See