Monday, October 09, 2006

Black hole population count, planet-forming disks ripped away and bad polls for space exploration

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 - NASA scientists using the Swift satellite have conducted the first complete census of galaxies with active, central black holes, a project that scanned the entire sky several times over a nine-month period. See
g Abodes - A star must live in a relatively tranquil cosmic neighborhood to foster planet formation, say astronomers using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. A team of scientists came to this conclusion after watching intense ultraviolet light and powerful winds from O-type stars rip away the potential planet-forming disks around stars like our sun. See
g Message - Book alert: The father-son team of David E. Fisher and Marshall Jon Fisher brings the study of extraterrestrial life down to earth in “Strangers in the Night: Brief History of Life on Other Worlds,” an informative and entertaining book. In the anecdotal style that is their hallmark, the Fishers trace humankind’s attempts to discover life on other worlds. This informative and entertaining book tells the story of humankind’s attempts throughout history to discover extraterrestrial life. See
g Cosmicus - Some bad news: In a study reported on at the AIAA Space 2006 meeting, Dittmar Associates reported that young American adults are "largely disinterested" in the Vision for Space Exploration announced by President Bush in January of 2004. See
g Learning - It's an exciting time for educators and students. Before the end of the next decade, NASA astronauts will return to the moon. This time, they're planning to stay - building outposts and paving the way for eventual journeys to Mars and beyond. Today's students will be tomorrow's explorers. How will space exploration benefit their lives in the future? That's the question asked by a new NASA competition for students ages 11-18. The first NASA 21st Century Explorer Podcast Competition challenges students to create unique audio and video podcasts. The topic: How will space exploration benefit your life in the future? See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read C.M. Kornbluth’s short story "The Silly Season," originally published in F&SF (Fall 1950).