Monday, November 17, 2008

First infrared pictures of an entire solar system and a planet discovered orbiting Fomalhaut

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 - Astronomers have captured the first infrared pictures of an entire solar system. So far, only three planets have been spotted - and they orbit a star that is only fifty percent larger than our sun. See article.
g Abodes - Staring at his computer screen in May, poking through images of the bright star Fomalhaut, astronomer Paul Kalas found himself staring at a tiny white dot. The dot appeared amid a great ring of dust circling the star. From one image to the next, the dot moved. See article.
g Intelligence -Placing your foot down when walking was thought to be a predetermined process: lift foot, decide where to put it based on what’s on the ground, and if nothing moves, land it down on the original target. Scientists thought this procedure requires no immediate visual information once the foot was lifted off the ground. But a new study has found that continuous visual guidance mechanisms may be needed for accurate foot placement. See article.
g Message -The assertion that extraterrestrial intelligences do not exist, based on the apparent contradictions inherent in the Fermi Paradox, rests upon an unproven and untenable presumption: That ETI are not now present in the Solar System. The current observational status of the Solar System is insufficient to support the assumption that ETI are not here. Most advanced civilizations also would be either invisible or unrecognizable using current human observational methods, so millions of advanced societies may exist and still not be directly detectable by us. Thus the Fermi Paradox cannot logically be raised as an objection to the existence of ETI until these major observational deficiencies have been corrected. See article.
g Imagining -Like first contact stories? Then be sure to read “Encounter with Tiber,” by Buzz Aldrin and John Barnes (published by Warner in 1996).

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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