Saturday, April 08, 2006

Searching for life in the solar system, modern humans evolving and

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Astronomers based at Jodrell Bank Observatory have discovered a giant bridge of methyl alcohol, spanning approximately 288 billion miles, wrapped around a stellar nursery. The gas cloud could help our understanding of how the most massive stars in our galaxy are formed. See article.
g Abodes - Ice sheets across both the Arctic and Antarctic could melt more quickly than expected this century, according to two studies that blend computer modeling with paleoclimate records. See article.
g Life - Cancer in dinosaurs and illnesses in other animals are being studied in a groundbreaking new program that combines medical school with the study of natural history. See article.
g Intelligence - A comprehensive scan of the human genome finds that hundreds of our genes have undergone positive natural selection during the past 10,000 years of human evolution. See article.
g Message - Should we be looking for extraterrestrial civilizations, rather than just listening for them, as we do in the SETI project? That is the suggestion of a French astronomer, Luc Arnold, in his paper “Transit Lightcurve Signatures of Artificial Objects.” He believes that the transit of large artificial objects in front of a sun could be a used for the emission of attention-getting signals. See article.
g Cosmicus - Here’s a great personal essay from an astronomer: “Why the United States and NASA need astrobiology”.
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site for young kids, courtesy of NASA: Space Place. It offers games, animations, projects, and fun facts about Earth, space and technology.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Theodore Sturgeon’s "Affair With A Green Monkey,” anthologized in “A Touch of Strange” (edited by Sturgeon, published by Doubleday in 1958).
g Aftermath - The scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence is accelerating its pace and adopting fresh strategies. This increases the likelihood of successful detection in the near future. Humanity's first contact with alien intelligence will trigger extraordinary attention from the media, from government authorities, and from the general public. By improving our readiness for contact, especially for security during the first 30 days, we can avoid the most negative scenarios — and also enhance humanity's benefits from this first contact with an alien intelligence. Six potential problem areas include communicating with the media and the public, communicating with scientific colleagues, government control, an assassin or saboteur, well-meaning officials and lawsuits. See article.

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