Monday, July 10, 2006

Saturn’s rings, mammoth hair coloring and Mars exploration after 2010

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 - indirect evidence from X-ray telescopes has revealed telltale signs of thousands of black holes lurking in our own galaxy and beyond. Many are the remnants of exploded stars. But to other far more massive black holes, swallowing a single star is like Mount Everest absorbing a snowflake. See
g Abodes - NASA Cassini spacecraft images of Saturn's diaphanous G and E rings are yielding new clues about their structure and formation. See
g Life - By examining DNA extracted from a mammoth bone frozen in Siberian permafrost and comparing it with sequences from other mammoth remains, researchers have concluded that the wooly creatures probably carried two versions of Mc1r, a gene whose protein product helps determine hair color in several mammals, including humans, mice, horses and dogs. See
g Intelligence - Scientists may have revealed the origin of the battle of the sexes—in our genes. See
g Cosmicus - NASA needs to rethink its Mars exploration plans after 2010 given new understandings about the red planet and likely funding levels in the coming years, according to a report just out from a panel of outside experts. See