Thursday, November 06, 2008

Pluto-sized planetesimals in beta Pictoris moving group and portable magnetosphere for spaceships

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 -Sixty percent of the A star members of the 12 Myr old beta Pictoris moving group show significant excess emission in the mid-infrared, several million years after the proto-planetary disk is thought to disperse. Theoretical models suggest this peak may coincide with the formation of Pluto-sized planetesimals in the disk, stirring smaller bodies into collisional destruction. See article.
g Message -How might we detect an extraterrestrial messenger probe already in the solar system? See article. Note: This article is from 1983.
g Cosmicus -Researchers may have discovered how to create a “portable magnetosphere” to protect astronauts from harmful space radiation. The device would act as a force field, shielding a spacecraft and its passengers from the dangers of solar storms. See article.
g Learning -Here’s a neat classroom activity: “The Rare Earth.” In this activity students systematically investigate the time frame for complex life to develop on Earth. See article.
g Aftermath - Epicurus, in the fourth century BC, believed that the universe contained other worlds like our own, and since his time there has been considerable debate whether extraterrestrial life exists and might communicate with us. In the last quarter of the twentieth 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.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future

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