Friday, May 05, 2006

Solar physics, snakes with legs and analog-digital brains

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - In understanding our own star, solar physicists have one giant question: why is the outside hotter than the inside? See http://
. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Abodes - The weather and surface conditions of planets outside our Solar System could be detected by constellations of telescopes sent to space, and then used to predict which are most Earthly and likely to harbor life, according to recent research. See http://www.
. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Life - Once upon a time, snakes had legs. A new discovery reveals at least one had hips, too. See
g Intelligence - Contrary to popular belief, brain cells use a mix of analog and digital coding at the same time to communicate efficiently, according to a study by Yale School of Medicine researchers. See
g Message - Most SETI programs scan the sky looking for strong radio signals. Any signals that are deemed interesting are put on a list for follow-up observations weeks, months — even years later. Long delays in verification of potential ET signals sometimes generate tantalizing, but ultimately frustrating, stories. See
. Note: This article is from March 2003.
g Cosmicus - As rockets will be for life in orbit as cars are on Earth, the rocket business is going to grow to have all the infrastructure that the car industry has on Earth: sales operations, hire firms, lease firms, orbital propellant bases, specialized repair shops, licensing, standard maintenance procedures, spare parts suppliers, second-hand stores, innumerable accessories, and scrap dealers. There'll even a whole range of leisure-related activities: races, rallies, collectors, antique dealers and restorers. There'll also be a corresponding range of new careers - pilots and stewardesses, mechanics, parts suppliers, and numerous business roles such as freight-forwarders, traffic-controllers, lease-financiers and insurance. See
g Learning - Are we alone? Are humans unique in the universe, or is our existence the natural outcome of universal processes that produced complex life on Earth and elsewhere? As we observe the universe beyond Earth, we find that we are fundamentally a part of it. To understand the relationship of humanity to stardust requires understanding evolution in its broadest sense. See Note: This article on teaching evolution in schools is from January 2001.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Isaac Asimov’s short story "Not Final!" published in the Oct. 1941 edition of Astounding.
g Aftermath - Could religions survive contact with extraterrestrials? The Medieval Church didn't think so, as the discovery would challenge mankind's central role in the cosmos. Today such ideas are considered old fashioned, and many theologians welcome the discovery of life — even intelligent life — among the stars. But if scientists were to find microscopic Martians or a signal from another world, would established religions really take it in stride? For a discussion, check out this past program of SETI’s "Are We Alone?" at Note: An mp3 player is required to play the audio files; you can download one at the site for free.