Thursday, May 24, 2007

Static universe in 3 trillion years, Earth’s carbon burps and bug breath

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 - Physicists predict that trillions of years into the future, the information that currently allows us to understand how the universe expands will have disappeared over the visible horizon. What remains will be "an island universe" made from the Milky Way and its nearby galactic Local Group neighbors in an overwhelmingly dark void. See article.
g Abodes - A University of Colorado at Boulder-led research team tracing the origin of a large carbon dioxide increase in Earth's atmosphere at the end of the last ice age has detected two ancient "burps" that originated from the deepest parts of the oceans. See
g Life - X-rays that effectively peel away the opaque outer-cover off beetles have revealed the bugs have a more complex breathing apparatus at work than previously suspected. See
g Intelligence - A new study is the first to explore how questioning can affect our behavior when we have mixed feelings about an issue. The study, forthcoming in the June issue of the Journal of Consumer Research, found that asking people questions, like how many times they expect to give in to a temptation they know they should resist, increases how many times they will actually give in to it. See
g Message - Searches for extraterrestrial intelligence are about to expand into new realms, thanks to new advances in technology — and new thinking. See
g Cosmicus - A powerful Nigerian satellite was launched by a Chinese rocket Sunday to deliver a broad assortment of communications services to customers across Africa. See
g Learning - Are you a future SETI scientist? See http://www.
. Note: This article is from Feb. 2001.
g Imagining - In popular fiction and conspiracy theories, life forms, especially intelligent life forms, that are of extraterrestrial origin, i.e. not coming from the Earth are referred to as alien and collectively as aliens. Prime examples of how aliens are viewed are found in the movies Alien, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Signs, Independence Day, and The War of the Worlds. This usage is clearly anthropocentric: When humans in fictional accounts accomplish interstellar travel and land on a planet elsewhere in the universe, the local inhabitants of these other planets are usually still referred to as "alien," even though they are the native life form and the humans are the intruders. In general they are seen as unfriendly life forms. This may be seen as a reversion to the classic meaning of "alien" as referring to "other," in contrast to "us" in the context of the writer's frame of reference. See
g Aftermath - One of our natural tendencies when we make contact with strangers is to try to impress them. Sloppy dressers might polish their shoes for a job interview, hopeful suitors will wash their cars for a first date and prospective children-in-law will be on their best behavior in the presence of the parents of their intended. Wouldn’t we want to do the same in our first contact with ET? Lewis Thomas, in his book “Lives of a Cell,” suggests that if we want to impress an alien civilization, we should send "Bach, all of Bach, streamed out into space, over and over again." See

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