Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hydrothermal vents’ sounds, International Seed Vault and ‘The Origin of Life and Evolution of the Cosmos’

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 - The 16-year-old Ulysses spacecraft reaches what could be considered a low point in its mission observing the sun - and solar scientists could not be happier. The European-manufactured, joint NASA- and ESA-managed spacecraft, has reached maximum latitude in its exploration of the heliosphere, the bubble in space blown out by the solar wind. See
g Abodes - New recordings of the sounds produced by hydrothermal vents at the ocean floor may provide insight into these unique environments and the organisms they support. See
g Life - Moths often baffle and elude us with their bouncy, seemingly erratic flight paths, especially around outdoor lights, but they have a piloting system that has allowed them to thrive on Earth for hundreds of millions of years. Now scientists have learned the details of this flight system and find that moths use their antennae as spatial orientation sensors to steady themselves as they fly and hover over flowers. See
g Intelligence - The Norwegian government has revealed the architectural design for the Svalbard International Seed Vault, to be carved deep into frozen rock on an island not far from the North Pole. The entrance to the "fail-safe" seed vault will "gleam like a gem in the midnight sun," signaling a priceless treasure within: seed samples of nearly every food crop of every country. The vault is designed to protect the agricultural heritage of humankind - the seeds essential to agriculture of every nation. See
g Message - What are our friends south of the equator doing in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence? After all, the Northern Hemisphere only covers half of the galaxy. See
g Cosmicus - SES AMERICOM, an SES company, announced today that the AMERICOM-18 (AMC-18) satellite that was launched on Dec. 8, 2006, has successfully completed a full battery of in-orbit-tests and is now operational from its assigned orbital location of 105 degrees West. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site with excellent graphics: “The Origin of Life and Evolution of the Cosmos.” It explores events that led to the origin of life on Earth. See
g Imagining - America has seen a spate of alleged UFO sightings in recent weeks and months. Eyewitnesses in Arizona, Illinois, Arkansas, North Carolina, and other states have reported seeing mysterious lights and objects in the sky. See
g Aftermath - What would an intelligent signal from another planet change about human destiny? This large question is the topic of the book "The SETI Factor," by Frank White, who also analyzes how to announce such an historic finding and whether it would unite or divide nations. See Note: This article is from 2003.