Friday, May 16, 2008

Habitable zone for Altair and space colony visions

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 - What is the habitable zone for the famous nearby star Altair?
g Abodes - New research questions the idea that water and other elements were added to the Earth late in its formation by impacts with icy comets and meteorites. The finding may cause scientists to rethink theories about the origin of life on our planet. See article.
g Message - Here's a transcript of a famous address Philip Morrison gave in 1960 examining "what sort of communication channel is open" between Earth and extraterrestrials. See article.
g Cosmicus - Here's a site contains a number of space colony images inspired by Gerard O'Neill's work in the 1970s. It also contains links to a number of Web resources concerned with space colonies and the utilization of space resources. See article.
g Learning - A research team has discovered a part of the brain crucial for counting and performing arithmetic. The new finding could lead to a better understanding of dyscalculia, a psychological disorder that makes it nearly impossible to deal with numbers, much less complicated math. See article.
g Imagining - Science fiction authors produce a lot of very strange critters. In the desperate dash to be different, many go way overboard to invent fantastic, outlandish species unlike anything anyone has ever seen. It's an admirable expression of their artistic abilities, but there's an inherent problem: They almost always lose the reader along the way. Sure, it sounds ultra-cool to have a whole herd of 80-foot quasi-limbed orb-stasis beings, but unless you draw me a picture of these things, the reader often has no idea what you're talking about. However, if you write that your alien has four wings, 10 eyes and looks a little like a kangaroo, the reader is right there with you. Most readers need at least something familiar to draw on for their imagination, or they get lost. See article.
g Aftermath - In the last quarter of the 20th century, an international social movement — Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence — has emerged which advocates an attempt to achieve communication with extraterrestrial intelligence, and many of its most active members have been leading scientists. Modest efforts to detect radio signals from intelligent extraterrestrials already have been made, both under government aegis and privately funded, and the technical means for a more vigorous search have been developed. If a CETI project were successful, linguists would suddenly have one or more utterly alien languages to study, and some consideration of linguistic issues is a necessary preparation for it. See article.

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