Thursday, October 12, 2006

Spiderweb Galaxy, new era of spaceflight and intelligent bacteria

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 - New Hubble images have provided a dramatic glimpse of a large massive galaxy under assembly as smaller galaxies merge. This has commonly been thought to be the way galaxies grew in the young universe, but now Hubble observations of the radio galaxy nicknamed the "Spiderweb Galaxy" have shown dozens of star-forming satellite galaxies in the actual process of merging. See article.
g Abodes - A new image of Saturn demonstrates a technique that creates a 'Chinese lantern' effect, showing Saturn's deep clouds silhouetted against the planet's warm, glowing interior. Seen this way, Saturn's interior shows surprising activity underneath the overlying haze, with a great variety of cloud shapes and sizes. See
g Intelligence - Bacteria may not have brains, but they are intelligent. So says Lynn Margulis, co-author of “Microcosmos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution.” To mark the 20th anniversary of the book’s publication, Astrobiology Magazine spoke with Margulis, who laid out the evidence for bacterial intelligence. She also explained why she thinks that, most likely, Mars is a dead world. See
g Cosmicus - A new era of human spaceflight is upon us, and its movers and shapers say it will be cheaper, safer and aimed at the masses. Whether you just want to experience weightlessness, take a quick suborbital jaunt or spend a few days aboard the International Space Station or a space hotel, new space companies are cropping up, eager to compete for your business. See