Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Universe’s earlier epochs, history of the moon and the microwave band

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 critically important number that specifies the expansion rate of the universe, the so-called Hubble constant, has been independently determined using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. This new value matches recent measurements using other methods and extends their validity to greater distances, thus allowing astronomers to probe earlier epochs in the evolution of the universe. See
g Abodes - Apollo turned our distant moon into the very edge of the human frontier, and rocks collected during that mission helped reveal the moon's evolutionary history. In this essay, Bernard Foing describes current scientific research that continues to teach us about the history of the moon. See
. For related story, see “Moon's Strange Bulge Finally Explained” at
g Life - Scientists led by a Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh geneticist have found new evidence that a category of genes known as pseudogenes serve no function, an important finding that bolsters the theory of evolution. See
g Intelligence - Everyone needs sleep, but temporary periods with no sleep can be a reality of military operations. To get answers on sleep questions for the military as well as civilians, for nearly four years, a Department of Defense-funded researcher has studied the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain, namely in decision making, as well as how long it takes to recover from periods of no sleep. See
g Message - The universe is a noisy place, filled with the hiss and crackle of stars being born and dying. There is little escape from this cosmic din, except in one small region of the radio dial — the microwave band. Here, only the faint whimper of the Big Bang breaks the silence, making it a “really good place to communicate,” according to Dan Werthimer of Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, perched close to the stars atop Grizzly Peak. See http://www.alumni.
. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Cosmicus - A string of robot spacecraft will shoot for the Moon within the next two years, departing from Japan, China, India, as well as the United States. This multi-nation collection of science sensors and exploration gear will provide an extraordinary look at Earth's only natural satellite, setting the stage for a human return. See
g Learning - Here’s an interesting classroom activity: “Who Can Live Here?” Students explore the limits of life on Earth to extend their beliefs about life to include its possibility on other worlds. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Hugh Walters’ short story, “First Contact?” published by Nelson in 1971.
g Aftermath - In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. See Note: This article is from 2002.