Sunday, July 09, 2006

Geothermal hot springs, new species of ancient aquatic reptile and practice shuttle repairs

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 Abodes - Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have successfully modeled the spectacular landscapes seen at geothermal hot springs. See
g Life - Scientists have identified a new species of ancient aquatic reptile that swam the seas when dinosaurs still ruled the Earth. Dubbed Umoonasaurus, the creature lived in waters off the coast of what is now Australia 115 million years ago, when the continent was located much closer to Antarctica than it is now. See
g Intelligence - Having several older brothers increases the likelihood of a man being gay, a finding researchers say adds weight to the idea that there is a biological basis for sexual orientation. See
g Cosmicus - Astronaut Mike Fossum, anchored to the end of a 100-foot space crane positioned at one end of the space station's solar array truss, pretended to make heat shield repairs Saturday, measuring the forces imparted to the untried space crane to judge its stability as a repair platform. See http://www.spaceflightnow.
. For related story, see “Mission Update” at