Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New pictures of Jovian system, canine evolution and the potential for life around Tau Ceti

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 universe may be filled with shining stars, but nearly 85 percent of all matter can't be seen, calculations show. In the hunt for the invisible, astrophysicists have turned up a small but new hiding place for mysterious dark matter: "recycled" dwarf galaxies produced from nasty galactic collisions. See article.
g Abodes - NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has provided new data on the Jupiter system, stunning scientists with never-before-seen perspectives of the giant planet's atmosphere, rings, moons and magnetosphere. See http://spaceflightnow.com/news/n0705/01jupiterflyby/.
g Life - It may be hard to see that the Chinese crested dog is descended from the wolf, but it’s easier to grasp that two poodles of different sizes are related. In her dissertation presented on May 3, Susanne Björnefeldt, at the Department of Evolution, Genomics, and Systematics at Uppsala University, shows that dogs of the same breed differ more genetically than was previously thought. See http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070510090442.htm.
g Intelligence - Early humans might have turned to plant roots and underground storage organs when fruit was scarce, a new study suggests. See http://www.livescience.com/humanbiology/070501_hominin
g Message - It's possible to split up the methods of finding extraterrestrial life into two categories; humans trying to discover extraterrestrial life, and humans trying to be discovered by extraterrestrial life. See http://www.ibiblio.org/astrobiology/index.php?page=findlife01. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - The priority of the space community must be bringing the Moon-Mars focus back to the near-term. The focus must be on programs that proceed in stages, each with its own perceivable goal and associated cost estimates. Because those estimates will be near-term they will be easier for Congress to ascertain and periodically review. See http://www.space.com/adastra/adastra_moon_050215.html.
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity: “Moons of Jupiter.” In this lesson plan, students build model rovers to learn about engineering and evidence of alien life. See http://www.adlerplanet/arium.org/education/teachers/plans
g Imagining - Could alien life evolve on the nearest Sun-like star, Tau Ceti, as is suspected it will in many science fiction tales? See http://www.astrobio.net/news/modules.phpop=modload&name
. Note: This article is from 2002.
g Aftermath - Would dutiful American citizens trust the government to handle first contact with extraterrestrials and rush to get information to the public? See http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/1999/Jun-11-Fri-1999/news/11331065.html. Note: This article is from 1999.