Thursday, August 02, 2007

Third anion discovered, alien spectrometry and student-built satellites

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 -Astronomers have found the largest negatively-charged molecule yet seen in space. The discovery of the third negatively charged molecule, called an anion, in less than a year and the size of the latest anion will force a drastic revision of theoretical models of interstellar chemistry. See article.
g Life -The search for life elsewhere in the solar system and beyond should include research to detect what some scientists call "weird" life, with biochemistry different from that of life on Earth, says a new report from the National Research Council. See article.
g Message -The spectral approach is a universal tool of both astronomical observations and SETI. Furthermore, it has a clear physical meaning – a spectrometer finds the energy distribution of photons, in human sensing it is color and pitch. Under the hypothesis on identity of physical laws in our part of universe, it may be proposed that spectrometry also are using by those aliens, who know radio and lead theirs own SETI, too. See article.
g Cosmicus - Scientists are using sophisticated telescopes and a small armada of robotic probes to look for liquid water beyond Earth. This distinctly modern, high-tech search is also an expression of timeless aspects of the human psyche that have been captured in many of our watery myths. See article.
g Learning - NASA is fostering work on a student-built satellite that would orbit the Moon. See article.
g Aftermath -Communication with extraterrestrial intelligence depends as much upon social support for the project as upon appropriate engineering design and upon the actual existence of a nearby extrasolar civilization. The results of a sociological survey of 1,465 American college students provide the first detailed analysis of the social and ideological factors that influence support for CETI, thereby suggesting ways that support might be increased. Linked to the most idealistic goals of the space program, notably interplanetary colonization, enthusiasm for CETI is little affected by attitudes toward technology or militarism. Few sciences or scholarly fields encourage CETI, with the exceptions of anthropology and astronomy. Support is somewhat greater among men than among women, but the sex difference is far less than in attitudes toward space flight in general. Evangelical Protestantism, represented by the "Born Again" movement, strongly discourages support for CETI. Just as exobiology begins with an understanding of terrestrial biology, exosociology on the question of how interstellar contact can be achieved should begin with serious sociological study of factors operating on our own world See article.