Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lalande 21185, titan’s dunes and Southern stargazing

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Today’s news:
g Stars - Within 20 light years of Sol, astronomers may have detected planets only in the Solar System and around three stars. One of them is Lalande 21185. See
g Abodes - Radar images taken when the Cassini spacecraft flew by Titan last October show dunes 330 feet high that run parallel to each other for hundreds of miles at Titan's equator. See http://www.astrobio.
g Life - Mammals, once tiny creatures scampering on the forest floor, grew larger as the amount of oxygen in the air increased over millions of years, a new study says. See http://www.livescience.
. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Intelligence - Human evolution, Chicago researchers report, is still under way, in what has become our most important organ: the brain. In two related papers published in Science, they show that two genes linked to brain size are rapidly evolving in humans. The researchers looked at variations of microcephalin and ASPM within modern humans, and found for each gene one class of variants has arisen recently and has been spreading rapidly because it is favored by selection. See
. Note: This article is from 2005.
g Message - The Harvard SETI Group have conducted several searches for extraterrestrial life since 1978. For a history of those searches, see
g Cosmicus - After years of quasi-colonial treatment from their European partners, local astronomers in Chile and South Africa are coming into their own. Dirk Steuerwald tracks the changing climate for the stargazers of the south. See
g Learning - Tim Spuck made two discoveries recently. The first involved his high school science classroom in Oil City. The second involved a patch of stars some 800 light years away. Mr. Spuck made the first discovery because he's something of an iconoclast, at least when it comes to education. Want to really get him talking? Ask him if he sees any problems with how science is taught to teenagers. "Something is missing," he said. "The inspiration." See
g Imagining - Here’s an interesting Web site about alien depictions in science fiction: “Life on Other Worlds” at
g Aftermath - How would humans react the day after ET landed? A nationwide survey by the Roper Organization in 1999 found that the following: “ out of four Americans think most people would “totally freak out and panic” if such evidence were confirmed. See