Sunday, April 30, 2006

Disintegrating comet, pristine meteorite and making stone tools

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Last week, ESO's Very Large Telescope observed fragment B of the comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 that had split a few days earlier. To their great surprise, the ESO astronomers discovered that the piece just ejected by fragment B was splitting again! Five other mini-comets are also visible on the image. The comet seems thus doomed to disintegrate but the question remains in how much time. See For related story, see “NASA Says Comet Fragments Won't Hit Earth” at
g Abodes - The depths of space are much closer to home following the University of Alberta's acquisition of a meteorite that is the only one of its kind known to exist on Earth! What makes it so rare? The meteorite is “pristine” - that is, still frozen and uncontaminated - and so provides an invaluable preserved record of material from when the solar system formed 4.57 billion years ago. See http://
g Life - Scientists are learning more about what appears to be one of the biggest meat-eating dinosaurs known, a two-legged beast whose bones were found several years ago in the fossil-rich Patagonia region of Argentina. See
g Intelligence - How did ancient man make stone tools, such as a Clovis spear point? See
g Message - The search for extraterrestrial intelligence could be taking the wrong approach. Instead of listening for alien radio broadcasts, a better strategy may be to look for giant structures placed in orbit around nearby stars by alien civilizations. See
g Cosmicus - Here is a transcript of the remarks given by John Marburger earlier this year during the Keynote Address of the 44th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium in Greenbelt, Md. See
g Learning - An excellent collection of books about SETI, including some for elementary and middle school children, appears online at
. These would make some great holiday gifts.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Lisanne Norman’s novel “Turning Point,” published by DAW in 1993.
g Aftermath - For some provocative reading, pick up “Sharing the Universe,” by Seth Shostak, at your local bookstore. SETI scientist Shostak almost single-handedly is outlining social and political issues that will arise once we make contact with extraterrestrials. For reviews, see