Sunday, March 23, 2008

PlanetQuest and animal intelligence

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 Abodes - Ever want to discover a new world? That's what we are planning to have folks do with PlanetQuest, a distributed computing screen saver that will allow anyone to find extrasolar planets on their own computer. Like the venerable Seti@Home but distinct from the new planetary-systems-generating program of the OKLO project at UC Santa Cruz, PlanetQuest will enable users to discover real planets around other stars using four different detection techniques. See article.
g Intelligence - A distinguishing feature of human intelligence is our ability to understand the goals and intentions of others. This ability develops gradually during infancy, and the extent to which it is present in other animals is an intriguing question. See article.
g Aftermath - Understanding the public's current thoughts on what will happen once humanity discovers extraterrestrial intelligence is a vital part of any objective discussion in which we attempt to predict and prepare for the aftermath. Here's one person's view. Note the mix of popular mythology (UFOs) and an almost spiritual notion that the aliens will help us or make our lives better in some ways, as if they were angels descended from the sky. A thought: Is this an indication that if the aliens are technologically superior, we'll readily accept their ways and let it supplant our own culture? See article.

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