Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Brown dwarf weather patterns, conversations on Mars and Discovery lifts off

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 - Ever since their discovery 11 years ago, brown dwarfs have baffled scientists. First it was the question of how to categorize them. These celestial orbs are too massive to be a planet and not massive enough to be a star. Now scientists are investigating astonishing weather patterns on brown dwarfs that could rival Jupiter's Great Red Spot and even Earth's intense hurricanes.
See http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/060703_mystery
g Abodes - It may be difficult for two people to have a conversation on Mars, according to a research paper by Penn State graduate student in acoustics Amanda Hanford and Lyle Long, professor of aerospace engineering. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/
g Life - Entrance fees to Utah's Bryce Canyon National Park will fund a two-year research study to survey and map the park's fossil sites. See http://www.heraldextra.com/content/view/184870/4/.
g Intelligence - A study of the sleep characteristics of 669 middle-aged adults found that people sleep much less than they should, and even less than they think. Published in the July issue in the American Journal of Epidemiology, the study also found that blacks sleep less than whites, men sleep less than women, and the poor sleep less than the wealthy. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/07/060703162945.htm.
g Cosmicus - The space shuttle Discovery and its flag-waving crew thundered into space today, putting on a spectacular Fourth of July skyshow as it rocketed away on a long-awaited mission to repair and resupply the international space station. See http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts121/060704launch/.