Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Testing General Relativity, growing plants in microgravity and reacting to ET’s landing

Welcome! “Alien Life” tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. You may notice that this and future entries are shorter than usual; Career, family and book deal commitments have forced me to cut back some of my projects. Now, here’s today’s news:
g Stars - A space telescope scheduled for launch in 2007 will be sensitive enough to detect theoretical miniature black holes lurking within our solar system, scientists say. By doing so, it could test an exotic five-dimensional theory of gravity that competes with Albert Einstein's General Theory of Relativity. That is, of course, if the tiny black holes actually exist. See
g Abodes - For the first time, glaciologists have combined and compared sets of ancient climate records trapped in ice cores from the South American Andes and the Asian Himalayas to paint a picture of how climate has changed – and is still changing – in the tropics. See
g Life - When you think of bright coral and colorful fish, you might conjure images of Hawaii or the Caribbean. If so, a newfound bed of deep-sea corals and other animal life found off the coast of Washington state will likely surprise you. See
g Intelligence - In the first article to examine bargaining behavior from a consumer perspective, researchers from the University of Maryland found that buyers gauge the success of a round of bargaining not by the final price, but by a seemingly innocuous non-verbal cue: how long the seller pauses before responding to the offer. See
g Message - And after all those years, as the saying goes, UFOs remain a riddle inside a mystery wrapped in an enigma. Why so? For one, the field is fraught with hucksterism. It's also replete with blurry photos and awful video. But then there are also well-intentioned and puzzled witnesses.Scientifically speaking, are UFOs worth keeping an eye on? See
g Cosmicus - When shuttle Discovery next launches, it will carry the continuing research of botanist John Kiss to study if and how well plants can be grown in microgravity. Kiss' project is one of only two experiments launched on Discovery that will be performed on the International Space Station at this time. See http://www.astrobio.
g Learning -A 2006 report by the National Science Foundation revealed that only about one-third of U.S. students in the fourth and eighth grades and less than one-fifth of 12th graders were proficient in math and science tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Scores for underrepresented minorities were significantly lower. See
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