Monday, July 16, 2007

Density wave features in galaxies, science fiction’s versions of communicating with aliens and Messier’s thoughts on 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 - In a paper published in The Astronomical Journal, researchers report that they have developed an accurate and widely-applicable method for characterizing density wave features in galaxies. See article.
g Intelligence - The name Messier is synonymous with the deep sky. The man himself was an unfaltering 18 th century French astronomer who changed the course of astronomy with his catalogue of " Star Clusters and nebulae ", as well as the discovery of over 20 comets. Messier's revolution in the observation of galaxies, nebulae and star clusters is significant enough in the history of astrobiology. But what did Charles Messier make of the alien life debate? See article.
g Message - When looking for ET, we may have to consider other strategies beyond radio waves. See As a side note, one of those strategies might by looking for optical signals; see
for more.
g Cosmicus - Mars orbiter missions are currently monitoring a large dust storm brewing on Mars. The storm is delaying operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers, but the robotic explorers are expected to continue gathering data at the surface of the planet once the storm dissipates. See article.
g Learning - Here’s a neat set of lessons, designed for at-risk students: “The Plausibility of Interstellar Communication and Related Phenomena Depicted in Science Fiction Literature and the Movies.” The curriculum has four major objectives: first, to educate students to develop concepts about the proximity of our solar system in relation to other probable solar systems in the Milky Way Galaxy; second, to give students the opportunity to use these concepts to evaluate the plausibility of interstellar communication depicted in science fiction literature and movies; third, to create an opportunity for students not only to look out on the universe but to turn it inward to look at the world, their own society, and themselves as individuals; and fourth, an objective that will be integrated with all of the others is to give students to opportunity to learn and/or sharpen skills in: using the scientific method, research, reading, writing, collaboration, discussion and in critical thinking. See
g Imagining - Here’s an interesting tip sheet from the Science Fiction Writers of America about how to create believable aliens via scientific laws:
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.” — Buckminster Fuller

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