Saturday, December 09, 2006

Solar tsunami, ‘Life As We Do Not Know It’ and shuttle launch delayed

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 - A major flare on the Sun earlier this week generated what scientists are calling a solar tsunami. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists, including Ken Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, have found that the Earth's global warming, 55 million years ago, may have resulted from the climate's high sensitivity to a long-term release of carbon. This finding contradicts the position held by many climate-change skeptics that the Earth system is resilient to such emissions. The work, led by Mark Pagani of Yale University, is published in the Dec. 8 issue of Science magazine. See article.
g Life - At the Astrobiology Science Conference last March, Astrobiology Magazine organized a debate about alien life. Using Peter Ward’s book, “Life As We Do Not Know It” as a launching pad, the participants debated everything from how to define “life” to what kind of strange aliens we can expect to find in our explorations. In part one of this seven-part debate series, Peter Ward tells how he was booed at a science fiction convention, and Neville Woolf has a conversation with his computer. See
g Intelligence - Infants may have been considered equal members of prehistoric society, according to an analysis of burial pits found in Austria. See
g Cosmicus - Thursday night's launch of the space shuttle Discovery was called off due to low clouds over the Kennedy Space Center. A bleak weather forecast for today has forced NASA to delay Discovery's next launch attempt to Saturday night at the earliest. See
g Aftermath - How would proof of extraterrestrial intelligence affect humanity’s “world” view? Astronomer Steve Dick discusses the matter in this transcribed Smithsonian Institute lecture, from 1999, at

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