Sunday, May 20, 2007

Exoplanet’s temperature measured, life’s slimy beginnings and early concepts of ET

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 - For decades, astronomers have known that the Milky Way galaxy is on a collision course with the neighboring Andromeda spiral galaxy. What was unknown until now: the fate of the Sun and our solar system in that melee. See
g Abodes - A team of researchers have measured the hottest temperature ever recorded on a planet at 3700 Degrees Fahrenheit. The steamy planet is HD 149026b, which orbits a star about 260 light years away. See
g Life - From Astrobiology Magazine, European Edition is a podcast interview with Frances Westall of the Centre de Biophysique Moléculaire in France. She discusses her search for traces of life in the Earth’s most ancient rocks, and explains how fossilized microbial mats provide a vast amount of information about life’s slimy beginnings. See
g Intelligence - Most people don't appreciate an angry look, but a new University of Michigan psychology study found that some people find angry expressions so rewarding that they will readily learn ways to encourage them. See
g Cosmicus - Here is a transcript of the remarks given by John Marburger during the Keynote Address of the 44th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium in Greenbelt, Md. See Note: This article is from 2006.
g Learning - The threat to our students’ science education continues: A Kansas Republican who is an open opponent to evolution theory is the sole candidate for a top National Association of State Boards of Education post.
g Imagining - What about the invading aliens from the X-Files: Are they plausible? A book released a few years ago that addresses the topic is “The Science of the X-Files,” by Jeanne Cavelos. There’s a review of the book (look near the end for a discussion on the extraterrestrial biology) at
g Aftermath - It was not suggested outside of science fiction — and there only after the 1890s — that extraterrestrials might come to Earth, except for a few believers in interplanetary spirit travel by mortals (an idea now well established among occultists). Among these was the well-known Belgian writer Maurice Maeterlinck, who, in what was perhaps the earliest conception of ETs as “gods from outer space,” reasoned that since no beings from other worlds have used their advanced science to abolish suffering on Earth, “Is there not reason to fear that we are for ever alone in the universe, and that no other world has ever been more intelligent or better than our own?” But this, the first serious “Where are they?” argument, was not known to the general public and in any case would not have carried weight, since it depended on the concept of disembodied spirits. Physical contact between worlds was not thought possible outside of fiction. See

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