Friday, April 07, 2006

Habitable planets for man, experiencing microgravity

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - The solar system's up-and-down motion across our galaxy's disc periodically exposes it to higher doses of dangerous cosmic rays, new calculations suggest. The effect could explain a mysterious dip in the Earth's biodiversity every 62 million years. See article.
g Abodes - New computer simulations of Mercury's formation show the fate of material blasted out into space when a large proto-planet collided with a giant asteroid 4.5 billion years ago. The simulations, which track the material over several million years, shed light on why Mercury is denser than expected and show that some of the ejected material would have found its way to the Earth and Venus. See article.
g Life - How many genes does life need? By removing or ‘knocking out’ genes in bacteria, scientists hope to determine the minimal number of genes that are essential for survival. But according to a new study in the journal Nature, this knock out approach is the wrong strategy. See article.
g Intelligence - Distinct regions of the human brain are activated when people are faced with ambiguous choices versus choices involving only risk, Duke University Medical Center researchers have discovered. See article.
g Message - We’ve all heard of SETI, bit what about METI — “Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” or sending both scientific and artistic messages to the stars? See article.
g Cosmicus - On this type of flight, cocktail peanuts would fly right out of passengers' hands. As would everything else. But transportation – and snacking – isn't the purpose of this microgravity flight or the reason four University of Illinois students made a spring break trip to Houston to hop onboard. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Samples of the Future.” In this exercise, which reinforces creative thinking and the scientific method, kids build their own toy spacecraft from assorted household materials. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Marti Steussy’s novel, “Forest of the Night,” published by Del Rey in 1987.
g Aftermath - In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

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