Thursday, September 18, 2008

Migrating Sun and crossing a new frontier of exploration

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 -Our sun, which lies 26,000 light years from the center of the the Milky Way, may have been born in a different part of the galaxy and later migrated to its current position, about halfway towards the galaxy’s outer edge. A new study defies the conventional wisdom that stars spend their entire lifespans in the same galactic region, and calls into question astronomers’ theory that galaxies have certain fixed “habitable zones” where life is more likely to evolve. See article.
g Abodes -a trio of astronomers from the University of Toronto has found a "planetary-mass candidate" next to a young star that has roughly the Sun's mass. See article.
g Message -If we are to learn about distant life, it must make itself perceptible. As far as we can see, only life that has followed our own evolution to the extent of being able to send some mark of its presence across space can be found. This must mean that intelligence develops naturally out of evolving life, that it can make signals capable of traversing space, and that, for some period of time at least, it wants to make its presence known (or at least does not conceal it!). If these conditions exist anywhere, we might hope to detect creatures far older and more capable than ourselves. Exploration would then cross a new frontier; the frontier of an intelligence biologically wholly unrelated to our own. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat classroom activity, courtesy of NASA: “Moon Quest”. In these lesson plans, students explore Moon legends and data by forming expert teams and sharing knowledge.
g Aftermath - Book alert: The authentic discovery of extraterrestrial life would usher in a scientific revolution on par with Copernicus or Darwin, writes Paul Davies in “Are We Alone?: Philosophical Implications of the Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life.” Just as these ideas sparked religious and philosophical controversy when they were first offered, so would proof of life arising away from Earth. With this brief book (160 pages, including two appendices and an index), Davies tries to get ahead of the curve and begin to sort out the metaphysical mess before it happens. Many science fiction writers have preceded him, of course, but here the matter is plainly put. This is a very good introduction to a compelling subject. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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