Thursday, September 14, 2006

Universe’s first bright galaxies, golden age of dinosaur discovery and comprehensive review of possibility of life on other planets

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 - The first bright galaxies in the universe apparently formed very rapidly, jumping from just one or so in number to hundreds in the span of little over 1 percent of the universe's age, astronomers find. See
g Abodes - A comprehensive review by leading scientists about our solar system which speculates on the possibility of life on other planets has been published. See
g Life - The next several decades could prove a golden age for dinosaur hunters looking to discover new species of the ancient reptiles. A new statistical analysis predicts that more than 1,300 unique dinosaur genera await discovery by paleontologists. See
g Intelligence - Could it be that in the great evolutionary "family tree," it is we modern humans, not the brow-ridged, large-nosed Neanderthals, who are the odd uncle out? See http://www.sci
. For related story, see “Scientist: Humans Strange, Neanderthals Normal” at
g Message - We’ve all heard of SETI, bit what about METI — “Messaging to Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” or sending both scientific and artistic messages to the stars? See
g Cosmicus - The Atlantis astronauts successfully unfurled a second solar array today, giving the international space station a new set of wings stretching some 240 feet from tip to tip and completing the primary goal of the 116th shuttle mission. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Moons of Jupiter.” In this lesson plan, students build model rovers to learn about engineering and evidence of alien life. See http://www.adlerplan
g Imagining - Incredibly it’s been four decades since Federation Starship NCC-1701, better known as the Enterprise, first ignited its matter-antimatter engines and coasted into the dark spaces of the Galaxy to seek out new life. See
g Aftermath - Reactions to the announcement that scientists had found evidence for primitive life in a meteorite from Mars have been intense. Some concerned the scientific evidence, some the implications of extraterrestrial life, especially if intelligent. Underlying these reactions are assumptions, or beliefs, which often have a religious grounding. The two divergent beliefs, for and against the plurality of life in the universe, are examined historically and through religious traditions, particularly the Judeo-Christian. This examination guides the formulation of the right relation between science and religion as one that respects the autonomy of each discipline, yet allows for each to be open to the discoveries of the other. Based on this relationship, perspectives from scientific exploration are developed that can help individuals to respect and cope with the new phenomena that science brings, whether these imply that we might be alone in the universe or co-creatures of God with the ancient Martians. See