Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sun-observing balloon, comet brightens million-fold and astrobiologists visiting students

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 solar telescope has been successfully launched to 120,000 feet using a balloon larger than a Boeing 747. The technology will be used in 2009 to launch polar balloon flights that will view details of the Sun's surface and collect data concerning the Sun's influence on the climate of Earth. See article.
g Abodes - A comet usually too faint to be seen with the naked eye has brightened by a factor of a million since Tuesday, suggesting its surface may have cracked open and expelled clouds of dust and gas. Astronomers are scrambling to observe the strange object, which is likely to fade in the coming days and weeks. See article.
g Life - Astrobiologist Cindy Van Dover is the subject of an interview in a recent New York Times science section. The article discusses her career in marine ecology, and her pioneering role in exploring the ocean with the submersible Alvin. See article.
g Intelligence - When a man fails to help out around the house, his poor performance might be related to a subconscious tendency to resist doing anything his wife wants, a new study suggests. See article.
g Message - In 1961, astronomer Frank Drake wrote the equation that put the search for alien civilizations on a scientific footing and launched the modern SETI movement. How do the numbers look today? See article. Note: This article is from 2002. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained and new rights to be won.” — John F. Kennedy
g Learning - When Jane Thipphavong told a group of third- and fourth-graders that she used to play with Legos when she was their age the classroom made an audible roar, as the group could relate. Thipphavong, who actually has a Lego collection now, was one of five Ames employees who participated in career day for Pearl City Elementary School, a 2006 NASA Explorer School located in Hawaii. The event was made possible by Ames Digital Learning Network, which telecast the event to Hawaii so students could ask questions to Ames employees in real time. See article.

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