Friday, July 14, 2006

Tiniest components of matter, saving neurons from dying and Leonardo logistics module

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 - What if the tiniest components of matter were somehow different from the way they exist now, perhaps only slightly different or maybe a lot? What if they had been different from the moment the universe began in the Big Bang? Would matter as we know it be the same? Would humans even exist? See
g Abodes - California's Sierra Nevada, an impressive mountain range that includes the popular Yosemite National Park, has done a great job of keeping its age a secret. But now a new study provides evidence that it's at least 40 million years old. See
g Life - When pronghorn antelope find a route they like, they stick to it. The animals have been making the same difficult trek between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks for at least 6,000 years, a new study shows. However, continued development of lands outside the parks and along the route could disturb it, endangering the pronghorn population and potentially disturbing the Yellowstone ecosystem. See
g Intelligence - Scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have found a protein in the brain that can save neurons from dying after experiencing traumatic brain injury from incidents such as stroke, car accidents and falls. See
g Cosmicus - The Discovery astronauts closed up the Leonardo logistics module today and geared up to detach it from the space station and re-install in the shuttle's cargo bay for return to Earth. With undocking from the station on tap Saturday, shuttle pilot Mark Kelly said the crew has accomplished virtually all of the mission's objectives, clearing the way for station assembly to resume this fall. See