Friday, January 11, 2008

Voyager 1 looks homeward and the leading effort to find intelligent life in outer space

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 - An explosive star within our galaxy is showing signs of an impending eruption, at least in a cosmic time frame, and has for quite some time. See article.
g Abodes - The Voyager 1 spacecraft, after traveling about 4 billion miles into space, turned around and looked back home. From such a distance, the Earth appeared as a pale blue dot, a single point of light suspended in the vast blackness of space. If aliens from much more distant worlds were to look at our solar system, the Earth, if it could be seen at all, would seem even more tiny and faint. How could they know that dot of light represents a world teeming with life? See article.
g Life - The parachutes deploy perfectly, and gradually, swinging gently through the tenuous atmosphere, the little probe falls to the ground. Minutes later it jerks slightly as it unfurls its solar panels. Like a butterfly newly emerged from a chrysalis, it soaks in the rays of the sun. Now its sensors switch on and start to take in the sights, possibly even sounds, of the world on which it finds itself. After a quick internal test, instruments deploy on robotic arms, ready to collect samples of the alien soil, and to test for that most elusive quality of all: life. But will our probe find anything? See article.
g Intelligence - Many people hear that we use only 10 percent of our brains and presume it's true. If you think (with your brain) about this claim, I hope you agree that this small percentage notion is crazy. How could we manage any other major organ that we use only 10 percent of? See article.
g Message - In a quiet valley north of California's Mount Lassen stands a peculiar manmade forest. Here, 42 metal dishes, each roughly the height of a two-story building, tilt their bowls toward the sky amid a landscape of green pines and yellow brush. This futuristic assemblage, scattered across UC Berkeley's Hat Creek Observatory, is humanity's leading effort to find intelligent life in outer space. See article.
g Learning - There are signs of life for Australia's only scientific centre dedicated to the quest for the earliest life on Earth, and beyond. After being dumped last June by Sydney's Macquarie University, the Australian Centre for Astrobiology will move to the University of NSW next month. See article.

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