Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spotting Earth's weather from other solar systems and habitable zone of GJ 1224

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 nearby red dwarf GJ 1224?
g Abodes - The weather and surface conditions of planets outside our solar system could be detected by constellations of telescopes sent to space, and then used to predict which are most Earthly and likely to harbor life. Note: This article is from 2001. See article.
g Intelligence - In an exciting study that provides new understanding of how animals learn - and learn from each other - researchers have demonstrated that bats that use frog acoustic cues to find quality prey can rapidly learn these cues by observing other bats. See article.
g Message - Since the beginning of astronomical observation, science has been viewing light on a curve. In a galaxy filled with thousands of eclipsing binary stars, we've refined our skills by measuring the brightness or intensity of so-called variable star as a function of time. The result is known as a "light curve." Through this type of study, we've discovered size, distance and orbital speed of stellar bodies and refined our ability to detect planetary bodies orbiting distant suns. Here on Earth, most of the time it's impossible for us to resolve such small objects even with the most powerful of telescopes, because their size is less than one pixel in the detector. But new research should let us determine the shape of an object... like a ringed planet, or an orbiting alien space station. See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: "A species that remains limited to a seemingly small geographical range and a limited repertoire of behaviors, is one that is one a delicate plank towards extinction. A healthy civilization needs to continue to explore." – Robert Zubrin

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