Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Chimp date preference, determining whether life exists elsewhere and Genesis 1 module

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 Intelligence - Males prefer older females, at least in the chimp world, scientists now report. These findings, reported in the Nov. 21 issue of the journal “Current Biology,” could shed light on how the more chimp-like ancestors of humans might have behaved, said researcher Martin Muller, a biological anthropologist at Boston University. See article.
g Message - Scientists find it hard enough to pin down evidence of early life on our own planet. How on Earth do we plan to determine whether life exists elsewhere? See
. Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - The success of Bigelow Aerospace’s Genesis 1 module, which has been operating in orbit since July 12, has put the company well ahead in its plans for bigger and more capable modules that eventually will host visitors in orbit. See
g Learning - What are SETI scientists doing to foment the study and understanding of astrobiology in our schools? See
g Imagining - Book alert: Get thee to a used bookstore if you haven’t read “Life Signs: The Biology of Star Trek,” by Susan and Robert Jenkins. The Jenkinses focus on the biological logic (or illogic) behind the alien ecologies in Star Trek — the original TV series and all of its sequels and movie spinoffs. The best parts are the biological bloopers, even though only a fan will truly appreciate them. For instance, how did the Klingons evolve forehead ridges between the original and the new series ... and why do all the planets look like California? The science in the book helps the authors hypothesize about how humanoid life might have evolved throughout the universe (panspermia revisited). They offer simple evolutionary theories to explain the various head shapes and behaviors of fictional alien species. See
g Aftermath - Comparing the task presented to a stellar communicator to the reasoning why past civilizations have prepared for posterity, one considers whether SETI lays the groundwork for future archaeology. Why did our terrestrial ancestors prepare relics like the Rosetta Stone? See