Friday, January 26, 2007

Saturn's upper atmosphere, neuroscience of gambling and meeting the 2015 time frame for Lunar exploration

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 - NASA engineers and scientists have created something that will give better information about far away galaxies -­ microshutters. This new creation, which will be in a future space telescope, is so tiny that it's the width of a few hairs.
g Abodes - UK researchers, along with colleagues from Boston University, have found that the hotter than expected temperature of Saturn's upper atmosphere - and that of the other giant planets - is not due to the same mechanism that heats the atmosphere around the Earth's Northern Lights. The researchers findings thus rule out a long held theory. See
g Life - A male fish can size up potential rivals, and even rank them from strongest to weakest, simply by watching how they perform in territorial fights with other males, according to a new study by Stanford University scientists. The researchers say their discovery provides the first direct evidence that fish, like people, can use logical reasoning to figure out their place in the pecking order. See
g Intelligence - Should you leave your comfortable job for one that pays better but is less secure? Should you have a surgery that is likely to extend your life but poses some risk that you will not survive the operation? Should you invest in a risky startup company whose stock may soar even though you could lose your entire investment? In the Jan. 26 issue of the journal Science, UCLA psychologists present the first neuroscience research comparing how our brains evaluate the possibility of gaining versus losing when making risky decisions. See
g Message - The chances are there's life out there, but any messages could be thousands of years old and indecipherable. See Note: This article is from May 2005.
g Cosmicus - NASA is studying a variant of its planned Ares 5 heavy-lift rocket that would enable an Apollo 8-like trip around the Moon in the 2015 time frame, a top U.S. space agency official told reporters Jan. 25. See
g Learning - Here’s the ultimate Web site for an introduction to astrobiology. “Astrobiology: The Living Universe” is a comprehensive and educational guide to life on Earth and beyond. This site features sections on the chemical origin of life, evolution, planetary biology, the search for extraterrestrial life, supporting humans in space and exobiology. See
g Imagining - Here’s a neat Web page that asks “What are our chances of actually recognizing an alien intelligence for what it is?” What if ET does not say "Take me to your leader" from an obviously technologically superior spaceship? Will we know if it’s intelligent? It draws in part upon Stanley Weinbaum's famous short story, "A Martian Odyssey.” See
g Aftermath - In a cross-cultural study conducted several years ago, to scientists looked at the attitudes of college students towards the possibility that extraterrestrial life might exist, and if it does, what it might be like for people to learn that it exists. See Note: This article is from 2002.