Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Another exoplanet discovered, infant and ape learning and predicting reactions to an alien message

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 - Our home solar system may be down by a planet with the recent demotion of Pluto, but the number of giant planets discovered in orbit around other stars continues to grow steadily. Now, an international team of astronomers has detected a planet slightly larger than Jupiter that orbits a star 500 light-years from Earth in the constellation Draco. See
g Abodes - Space weather in the upper reaches of the atmosphere is affected by weather conditions down here on Earth, a new study suggests. See
g Life - A NASA-sponsored study shows that by using a new technique, scientists can determine what limits the growth of ocean algae, or phytoplankton, and how this affects Earth's climate. See
g Intelligence - Infants and apes apparently adopt the same tactics for remembering where things are, but as children develop their strategies change, a new study shows. See
g Message - Most people see the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence as a project for merely listening for signals from other stars, but Yvan Dutil and Stephane Dumas from the Defence Research Establishment Valcartier in Canada had other ideas in mind when they composed a message recently sent to the stars. See
g Cosmicus - A satellite bearing the largest payload of plant and fungi seeds ever launched by China was flown into space on Sunday for a reported two-week stay in orbit before being sent on a guided return to Earth. See
g Learning - There are some great teacher resources on space biology at The modules cover such topics as “Life in the Universe,” “Radiation Biology” and “Life in Space Environments.” Each module includes an introduction, readings and references, teaching resources and research and applications.
g Imagining - While science fiction can prove remarkably accurate on technological development, it falls well short of reality when it comes to biology and behavior. Many of the bug-eyed monsters we see depicted in movies, books and comics are not only very unlikely but also completely unfeasible. And aliens all too often are charmingly naive about such things as violence and love. See http://www.ibiblio./org/astrobiology/print.php?page=concepts01. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Aftermath - How to predict reactions to receipt of evidence for an otherworldly intelligence? Some scientists argue that any unpredictable outcomes can only be judged against our own history. See
Get your SF book manuscript edited