Sunday, January 14, 2007

How solar systems may form, prediction of when we’ll detect an extraterrestrial transmission and ‘Life in the Universe’

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 nearby star only 12 million years old is surrounded by a dusty disk reminiscent of the disk from which the Earth and other planets formed more than 4.5 billion years ago. Peering into this dusty disk, astronomers have found that the dust is as fluffy as powder snow. This suggests that planetary disks condense gently into fluffy dust grains up to the size of snowballs before coalescing into asteroids and planets. See
g Abodes - Gas-giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn form soon after their stars do, according to new research. See
g Message - The SETI Institute predicts that we'll detect an extraterrestrial transmission within 20 years. If that turns out to be true, it'll probably be the folks at UC Berkeley's Hat Creek radio observatory who will have heard the call. See Note: This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - Human space exploration drives discovery. It is vital to gaining essential knowledge about our home planet, its environment and ourselves. Our world leadership and economic security are being globally challenged while our way of life is depleting the known natural resources of our planet. Research conducted in space provides critical information to help us win these battles for our country for the sake of future generations. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat set of lessons about “Life in the Universe” that teaches kids some basic astronomical facts and mathematical skills along the way:
g Imagining - In Ridley Scott's 1979 slimy monster masterpiece "Alien," the extraterrestrial life form discovered by Sigourney Weaver and crew goes through two startlingly different phases after it hatches. Is such a change during the life of an animal mere sci fi license? Not really. In fact, many earthlings go through similar drastic changes in form. See Note: This article is from March 2001.
g Aftermath - How would humans react the day after ET landed? A nationwide survey by the Roper Organization in 1999 found that the following: “ out of four Americans think most people would “totally freak out and panic” if such evidence were confirmed. See