Sunday, March 18, 2007

Thousand-plus supermassive black holes, the Great Silence and SpaceX launch

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 - By casting a wide net, astronomers have captured an image of more than a thousand supermassive black holes. These results give astronomers a snapshot of a crucial period when these monster black holes are growing, and provide insight into the environments in which they occur. See
g Abodes - A menacing lump of rock and dust in space called 1999 RQ36 would barely be noticed except for two crucial facts: it's a treasure trove of organic material and it regularly crosses Earth's orbit, so it might impact us someday. See
g Life - Giant Australian cuttlefish employ night camouflage to adapt quickly to a variety of microhabitats on temperate rock reefs. New research sheds light on the animal's remarkable visual system and nighttime predator/prey interactions. See
g Intelligence - While many scientists have considered masculine tendencies to be barriers to health and recovery, a small study of about 50 men suggests the opposite. The man-of-steel mentality, often associated with military men and those in other high-risk occupations, can boost and speed up a guy’s recovery from a serious and/or traumatic injury possibly. See
g Message - During the early 1980s, David Brin offered an explanation for Fermi’s Paradox, which asked why if extraterrestrial life existed it wasn’t on Earth. Brin’s answer: The Zoo Hypothesis. Here’s a copy of that groundbreaking paper, “The 'Great Silence': The Controversy Concerning Extraterrestrial Life “ at
g Cosmicus - The private launch firm Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) is reviewing the results of a Thursday rocket engine test in preparations for the second test flight of its Falcon 1 booster. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat Web site for science lovers: “Extremophiles: Can We Live Without Them?” Just 50 years ago tiny microorganisms were found living in environments that would kill all other microorganisms. The site provides an introduction to extremophiles and their unique qualities. See
g Imagining - Can life ever be noncorporeal, as are Star Trek’s Organians? See