Saturday, September 15, 2007

Planetary system survives star's chaotic death throes, quantum internet and real vs. artificial communications with 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 - A newly expanded image of the Helix nebula lends a festive touch to the fourth anniversary of the launch of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. This spectacular object, a dying star unraveling into space, is a favorite of amateur and professional astronomers alike. Spitzer has mapped the expansive outer structure of the six-light-year-wide nebula, and probed the inner region around the central dead star to reveal what appears to be a planetary system that survived the star's chaotic death throes. See article.
g Abodes - A day on Saturn just got a few minutes shorter, if new calculations are correct. See article.
g Intelligence - While humans may pride themselves on being highly evolved, most still behave like the stereotypical Neanderthals when it comes to choosing a mate, according to research by Indiana University cognitive scientist Peter Todd. In a new study, Todd and colleagues found that though individuals may claim otherwise, beauty is the key ingredient for men while women, the much choosier of the sexes, leverage their looks for security and commitment. See article.
g Message - The Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, or SETA, is about delineating between the artificial and the real. In the case of radio detection from other stellar systems, the artificial is what is labeled the real signal that intelligent communications are on-air. See article. Note: This article is a couple of years old.
g Cosmicus - Physicists at the University of Michigan have coaxed two separate atoms to communicate with a sort of quantum intuition that Albert Einstein called "spooky." See article.
g Learning - "In the Shadow of the Moon," a new documentary that opens this week in New York and Los Angeles, tells the human stories of NASA's former Apollo astronauts - now in their 70s - who circled or landed on Earth's nearest neighbor between 1968 and 1972. See article.
g Imagining - Bad news for the NASA Administrator - the Space Shuttle has blown up again. But this time the cause is not foam-fretted tiles, it's alien hitch-hikers. That's right: aggressive extraterrestrials have bummed a rocket ride to Earth to take over our planet. It's a familiar theme, indeed, but there's a silver lining to this interstellar cloud: the invaders are doing it for your own good. See article.
g Aftermath - Even if the public seems less than awestruck by the prospect that alien life is a bunch of microscopic bugs, astrobiologists say unequivocal discovery of microbial life beyond Earth will change human society in profound ways, some unfathomable today. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.

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