Friday, March 10, 2006

Stars wrapped in glass, human altruism and Harvard SETI searches

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has observed a rare population of colliding galaxies whose entangled hearts are wrapped in tiny crystals resembling crushed glass. The crystals are essentially sand, or silicate, grains that were formed like glass, probably in the stellar equivalent of furnaces. See
g Abodes - The vast icy ocean current that circles around Antarctica is so huge that it carries 100 times more water than all the world's rivers combined, yet its influence on the world's climate is barely understood. See
g Life - Predators are, ironically, the key to keeping the world green, because they keep the numbers of plant-eating herbivores under control, reports a research team lead by John Terborgh, a professor of environmental science at Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences. See
g Intelligence - Altruism may breed better marriages, a new study suggests. Or, the data might instead mean that good marriages make people more altruistic. See
g Message - The Harvard SETI Group have conducted several searches for extraterrestrial life since 1978. For a history of those searches, see article.
g Cosmicus - If you’re looking to get your hands dirty and be on the ground floor of public space travel, you might touch base with one of the leading spaceline builders. See
g Learning - Here’s an interesting classroom activity: “Who Can Live Here?” Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read C.M. Kornbluth’s short story "The Silly Season," originally published in F&SF (Fall 1950).
g Aftermath - What happens if we detect an extraterrestrial signal? Here’s text from congressional testimony outlining what would happen. See Note: This article is from 2001.