Saturday, May 19, 2007

Our perpendicular solar system, where rocky planets form and signs of alien intelligence

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 - Our solar system is hurtling through space while angled nearly perpendicular to the plane of the Milky Way, new computer models suggest. See article.
g Abodes - The most detailed measurements to date of the dusty disks around young stars confirm a new theory that the region where rocky planets such as Earth form is much farther away from the star than originally thought. See
g Life - Two new studies, detailed in the March 22 issue of the journal Nature, suggest predator-prey relationships, as well as the timing and relative order of a species' arrival into a new environment, can greatly affect how rapidly this branching process occurs. See
g Intelligence - According to a new brain study, even people who seemed resilient but were close to the World Trade Center when the twin towers toppled on Sept. 11, 2001, have brains that are more reactive to emotional stimuli than those who were more than 200 miles away. See
g Message - What would be a sign of alien intelligence? Forget mathematics — try a simple, pure-tone radio signal. See http://
g Cosmicus - The concept of solar power satellites, or SPS, first put forward in the 1960s, is still not widely known by the general public. For example at many public exhibitions about Energy, SPS is not even mentioned. This is mainly because very little funding has been spent on SPS research to date - about 1/1000 of 1 percent of the about $1 trillion that governments have spent subsidizing the development of nuclear power over the past 50 years. See For related story, see “SPS 2000” at (Note: this latter article is from the mid-1990s).
g Learning - Over and over again, science teachers at a recent convention remarked that their students are always asking about SETI and astronomy. Kids have a keen interest in astronomy, space sciences, and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. What's out there? Are we alone? Ironically, this interest is not uniformly reflected in the state science education standards across the USA and these state standards drive textbook content. See Note: This article is from April 2003.
g Imagining - Scientists at the SETI Institute have long considered what life might be like on other worlds. You can join in this quest through a game-like science lesson, "Inventing Life Forms." It’s suitable for inventors of all ages. Using one of a pair of dice, you work through the selection of characteristics for your life form. Then, you apply this data and your imagination to invent a life form and develop a world where your creature could live. Download the instructions for "Inventing Life Forms" from the SETI Institute website. It’s the PDF lesson featured with our teaching guide, "How Might Life Evolve on Other Worlds?"
g Aftermath - Scientists should pay greater attention to discussing the social implications of discovering extraterrestrial life - even though many researchers shy away from the subject because they don't consider it "hard" science. See news/article163.html.

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