Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Star cocoons, ocean-creating comets and outcompeted Neanderthals

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Scientists looking at three rare and radiant pulsating stars have found they each are surrounded by a fairly bright layer of matter, a “cocoon,” that has never before been detected around stars of this kind. See article.
g Abodes - Three icy comets orbiting among the rocky asteroids in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter may hold clues to the origin of Earth's oceans. See article.
g Life - Choosing a mate is a big decision. And, at least for mice, it's one that is best made with input from one's peers. See article.
g Intelligence - Neanderthals in Europe were killed off by the advance of modern humans thousands of years earlier than previously believed, losing a competition for food and shelter, according to a new study. See article. For related story, see “Ice Age star map discovered” (Note: This article is from 2000).
g Message - In August 1977, a sky survey conducted with Ohio State University's "Big Ear" radio telescope found what has become known as the “Wow” signal. Registering enormous signal strength, the shape of the signal had the characteristic rise and fall expected for its short 72-second lifetime. But a hitch remains: The signal has not been retrieved from other sky surveys, making it more anomaly than confirmable cosmic source. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Cosmicus - Scientists funded by the European Space Agency have measured the gravitational equivalent of a magnetic field for the first time in a laboratory. Under certain special conditions the effect is much larger than expected from general relativity and could help physicists to make a significant step towards the long-sought-after quantum theory of gravity. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat new podcast program, “Radio Astrobiology.” In the first show, host Simon Mitton unveils the science behind astrobiology in Part I of an in-depth interview with David Southwood, Director of Science for the European Space Agency. In this segment of the interview, Southwood reveals Europe's plans for exploring the universe and expanding our knowledge of astrobiology. (Clicking on this link will launch you directly into the podcast program [9 MB, mp3]). See article for more.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio’s novel “Illegal Alien,” published by TSR in 1988.
g Aftermath - While no one can guarantee SETI’s success (the discovery of an alien civilization), that may not matter. At its deeper levels, SETI stimulates and influences our thoughts and transforms our society. See article.

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