Saturday, March 04, 2006

Solving a dark mystery, earliest speculations about communication with extraterrestrial intelligence and lunar lander contest

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 - A Chinese astronomer from the University of St Andrews has fine-tuned Einstein's groundbreaking theory of gravity, creating a 'simple' theory which could solve a dark mystery that has baffled astrophysicists for three-quarters of a century. See article.
g Abodes - Mangroves, the backbone of the tropical ocean coastlines, are far more important to the global ocean's biosphere than previously thought. And while the foul-smelling muddy forests may not have the scientific allure of tropical reefs or rain forests, a team of researchers has noted that the woody coastline-dwelling plants provide more than 10 percent of essential dissolved organic carbon that is supplied to the global ocean from land. See article.
gLife - It turns out lampreys, long thought to have taken a different evolutionary road than almost all other backboned animals, may not be so different after all, especially in terms of the genetics that govern their skeletal development. See article.
g Intelligence - Just 30 minutes of brisk walking can immediately boost the mood of depressed patients, giving them the same quick pick-me-up they may be seeking from cigarettes, caffeine or binge eating, a small study found. See article.
g Message - The earliest speculations about communication with extraterrestrial intelligence involved contact with the Moon and with other planets of our own solar system. In the 1800s, many astronomers thought that — at least theoretically — life might well exist throughout the solar system. But when people raised the question of whether we are really alone in the solar system, they began to imagine ways to find a very concrete answer. See article.
g Cosmicus - The X Prize Foundation is seeking public comment on draft rules for a lunar lander contest set for later this year. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat site that allows you to make a star map of any patch of sky at any time.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read George Florance Guthridge’s "Taken on Faith," anthologized in “Alien Encounters,” (edited by Jan Finder).
g Aftermath - Scientists such as the SETI Institute’s John Billingham and Jill Tarter have taken the lead in planning for the day we might receive a signal from life beyond Earth. Working with diplomats and space lawyers, they have helped develop protocols that guide the activities of SETI scientists who think they may have detected extraterrestrial intelligence. See article. Note: This story is a couple of years old.

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