Thursday, September 13, 2007

Alfven waves, introduction to astrobiology and why visiting ET will be enormously ahead of us in technology

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 - Scientists for the first time have observed elusive oscillations in the Sun's corona, known as Alfven waves, that transport energy outward from the surface of the Sun. The discovery is expected to give researchers more insight into the fundamental behavior of solar magnetic fields, eventually leading to a fuller understanding of how the Sun affects Earth and the solar system. See article.
g Life - A new theory about how ancient life on Earth responded to elevated CO2 levels may change the way scientists view one of the largest mass extinctions in history. The theory could also yield clues about the future of present day life on our planet in the face of climate change. See article.
g Intelligence - Neuroscientists from MIT and Johns Hopkins University have used converging evidence from brain imaging and behavioral studies to show that the adult visual cortex does indeed reorganize--and that the change affects visual perception. See article.
g Message - The Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft are celebrating their 30th anniversary this fall. They are now approaching the edge of the Solar System, continuing to collect scientific data and carrying their famous golden records – which contain sounds and images of Earth – into interstellar space. See article.
g Cosmicus - The Boeing Company has been awarded a NASA contract valued at approximately $514.7 million to produce the upper stage of the Ares I crew launch vehicle. This element provides the navigation, guidance, control and propulsion required for the ascent of the second-stage Ares I into low-Earth orbit. See article.
g Learning - Here’s the ultimate Website for an introduction to astrobiology. “Astrobiology: The Living Universe” is a comprehensive and educational guide to life on Earth and beyond. This site features sections on the chemical origin of life, evolution, planetary biology, the search for extraterrestrial life, supporting humans in space and exobiology. See article.
g Imagining - Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle’s “The Mote In God's Eye,” published by Simon & Shuster in 1974.
g Aftermath - Movie aliens often are like distant relatives: They resemble us in an unpleasant sort of way. This is hardly a surprise. Hollywood creates characters that audiences can identify with, and that’s why its aliens are so anthropomorphic (and why Donald Duck looks more like a human than a duck.) But appearances aside, cinema aliens have another implausible attribute: they’re nearly always at our level of technical sophistication. We frequently trade gunfire with them or chase them around in dogfights. This is silly, of course. Any beings capable of bridging the vast distances between the stars would be able to clean our clock when it comes to science and engineering. Visitors from other worlds — should any appear — would be enormously ahead of us from a technological viewpoint. See article. Note: This article is from 2000.

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