Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Near-Earth asteroid KW4, pigeons’ long-term memory and DVD to Mars

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 Abodes - The Arecibo Observatory has made new observations of a binary near-Earth asteroid named KW4. Studying the formation and evolution of such near-Earth asteroids helps researchers learn how to mitigate the potential threat they pose to Earth. KW4 is classified as a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid, but data show that its path will not intersect Earth's for at least 1,000 years. See article.
g Life - Just as the guy with the flashy sports car doesn’t always attract the ladies, female animals may not judge the male with the most elaborate ornamental display to be the best mate. See http://
g Intelligence - In two recent studies, scientists discovered the common pigeon is astonishingly sophisticated, having an amazing long-term memory and the ability to make group decisions based on different sets of conditions. See article.
g Cosmicus - See In 2007, The Planetary Society will send a DVD to Mars. The disk, which will be attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, will include stories, essays, and art inspired by the Red Planet. People around the world can add their names (or those of family and friends) to the disk, which should last for many hundreds of years and might someday be read by future Martian explorers. See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.phpop=modload&name=News

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