Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Measuring a million stars, chicken with teeth and three shuttle flights

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - An international team of astronomers released to the public the first data collected as part of the Radial Velocity Experiment, an ambitious spectroscopic survey aimed at measuring the speed, temperature, surface gravity and composition of up to a million stars passing near the sun. see
g Abodes - University of Minnesota and Stony Brook University researchers have modeled the properties of rocks at the temperatures and pressures likely to exist at the cores of Jupiter, Saturn and two exoplanets far from the solar system. They show that rocks in these environments are different from those on Earth and have metallic-like electric and thermal conductivity. These properties can produce different terrestrial-type planets, with longer-lasting magnetic fields, enhanced heat flow to the planetary surfaces and, consequently, more intense "planetquake" and volcanic activity. See
g Life - Scientists have discovered that rarest of things: a chicken with teeth - crocodile teeth to be precise. See
g Intelligence - Some 50 million U.S. residents live with chronic pain, experts estimate. Pain forces an estimated 36 million of them to miss work every year and results in roughly 70 million doctor visits. Yet scientists know very little about how pain works. They can't even agree on a definition. See
g Message - Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is helping fund a SETI project that will distill space noise, better search for alien life, and help understand the cosmos. See http://www.technologyreview.
g Cosmicus - If NASA can get the shuttle Discovery off the ground on the second post-Columbia mission this spring or summer, the agency will have a realistic shot at launching three flights this year, program manager Wayne Hale told reporters today. See http://www.spaceflight
g Learning - Here’s a neat primer to telescopes for backyard viewing of the night sky, brought to up by a facility that has been involved in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence:
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Scott G. Gier’s “Genellan: Planetfall,” published by Del Rey in 1995.
g Aftermath - What if, one day, Earth was contacted by an extraterrestrial civilization? How, as a planet, would we respond to their offer to interact? What if they asked, “Do you have a method in place, or even a policy that outlines how Earth will proceed now that contact has happened?” Here’s an organization that we believes we need in place legal protocol and has proposed the “Extraterrestrial Contact Act.” See