Friday, September 22, 2006

Black hole factory, studying Mars and oldest fossil remains of child

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 - Scientists could generate a black hole as often as every second when the world's most powerful particle accelerator comes online in 2007. This potential "black hole factory" has raised fears that a stray black hole could devour our planet whole. The Lifeboat Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to safeguarding humanity from what it considers threats to our existence, has stated that artificial black holes could "threaten all life on Earth" and so it proposes to set up "self-sustaining colonies elsewhere." But the chance of planetary annihilation by this means "is totally miniscule," experimental physicist Greg Landsberg at Brown University in Providence, R.I., told LiveScience. See
g Abodes - Scientists and engineers are enjoying success both on the surface of the red planet and in orbit around Mars. NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover is closing in on the huge Victoria Crater at Meridiani Planum. The robot has rolled into position nearby to make “rim shots”—using its cameras to take longing looks at the crater’s opposite wall. See For related story, see “Managing Mars Missions.”
g Life - In search of meteor showers, an airborne research mission indicates that the chemical precursors to life found in comet dust may well have survived a plunge into early Earth's atmosphere. See
. Note: This article is from 2000.
g Intelligence - Scientists have unearthed the oldest child ever discovered—the fossil remains of what appears to be a girl dating back 3.3 million years. See
g Message - Here’s a quick, easy to understand primer to SETI’s radio searches and the Fermi Paradox:
g Cosmicus - Automated telescopes are now doing work once done by tortured astronomers, and thanks to a new high speed wireless microwave network, today's digitally captured images can be beamed down from mountain observatories and quickly distributed to astronomers living thousands of miles away. See
g Learning - Here’s a cool introduction to astrobiology: A concept map of the field’s fundamental questions with links to each one:
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read David Brin’s short story "Fortitude." It appeared in the January 1996 issue of Science Fiction Age magazine.
g Aftermath - Book alert: What happens if SETI succeeds? Several dozen experts from the fields of sociology, technology and education consider the social consequences of finding a signal in “Social Implications of the Detection of Extraterrestrial Civilizations,” by John Billingham, Roger Heyns, David Milne and Seth Shostak (editors). Based on workshops held in 1991 and 1992, this is the definitive opus on the likely impact of an extraterrestrial signal. Don't believe all you see on TV, nor what you read in the chat groups: here is reasoned prognostication on what could be the biggest event in human history. See