Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rare orbits for supermassive Jupiters, teen-age message to extraterrestrial intelligence and inflatable space stations

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 just the past several weeks, two supernovae have flared up in an obscure galaxy in the constellation Hercules. Never before have astronomers observed two of these powerful stellar explosions occurring in the same galaxy so close together in time. See article.
g Abodes - Astronomers who used powerful telescopes in Arizona and Chile in a survey for planets around nearby stars have discovered that extrasolar planets more massive than Jupiter are extremely rare in other outer solar systems. See article.
g Life - A new report from the National Research Council discusses why the search for life in the solar system may need to include looking for life that doesn't have the same biochemistry as life on Earth. See
g Message - In 2001, a group of Russian teens from Moscow, Kaluga, Voronezh and Zheleznogorsk participated directly and via the Internet in composing a Teen-Age Message to extraterrestrial intelligence, and in the selection of target stars. Their message was transmitted in the autumn of that year, from the Evpatoria Deep Space Center. See
g Cosmicus - The next step in one man's vision to populate Earth orbit with a network of private space stations was realized in late June, when the entrepreneur's company launched its second inflatable module from Russia on a test flight. See
g Learning - Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “Ergonomics For Extraterrestrials,” in which students develop an extraterrestrial life form, and to create a workstation that accommodates its unique characteristics. See
g Imagining - Hollywood loves movies about extraterrestrials, but most silver screen aliens — from E.T. to Star Wars — are remarkably anthropomorphic. Scientists say the real aliens may be far stranger than we think. But intelligent life elsewhere in the universe almost certainly won't resemble Tinseltown's take. An episode of SETI’s “Are We Alone?” radio series recently discussed the matter with guest Phil Plait, an astronomer and author of Bad Astronomy. For an archive of the broadcast, see for “Hollywood Aliens: What’s Right and What’s Wrong.”
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: “If we realize that there is other life at a higher order of multi-cellular organization of even adaptation of environment, I think that would profoundly rock our boat.” — Jim Garvin

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