Thursday, January 11, 2007

New theory on nebula’s origin, contact with ET in 50-100 years and how communication would affect theology

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 - Twenty years ago next month, the closest and brightest supernova in four centuries lit up the southern sky, wowing astronomers and the public alike. Ongoing observations of the exploded star, called supernova 1987A, provided important tests for theories of how stars die, but it also raised some new questions. Principal among these was how a bizarre, triple-ring nebula surrounding the supernova - ejected by the star a few thousand years before it exploded - originated. Astronomers devised a complicated theory that, within a relatively short period of time, the original star, a red supergiant, merged with a companion and started spinning rapidly, then underwent a transition to a blue supergiant, and finally exploded. University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Nathan Smith has proposed a different theory for the origin of the nebula. See
g Message - Dan Werthimer, director of the SERENDIP SETI program and chief scientist of SETI@home at the University of California Berkeley, predicts we’ll make first contact with an alien civilization in 50-100 years. See Note: This article is from 2004.
g Learning - From "Astrobiology Magazine, European edition" is a story that describes the first science fiction stage play. It's a rainy day in London, April 1706. A gentleman eager to impress his lady decides to take her to the opera. Once seated in the theatre they are delighted by an extravagant show which features flying geese on wires, a Spanish gentleman of indiscriminate morality, and giant lunar royalty. See
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Jayge Carr’s "The Wonderous Works of His Hands," anthologized in “Alien Encounters” (edited by Jan Finder).
g Aftermath - The discovery that alien life exists would mean that we are not the center of the universe. While most religions now recognize that the Earth is just a lump of rock, they still believe that we human beings are the most important thing in creation, that we occupy a special place in God's plan. The existence of aliens would seem to make this implausible especially if they are more advanced than we are (on all levels, intellectually, spiritually) This would mean that God has acted in the development of the aliens in a way he did not act in ours, which in turn would mean that we do not occupy the paramount role in God's creation, which is a fundamental idea in religions. See