Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Europa’s ocean waves and teacher resources on space biology

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 -For the first time, astronomers have clearly seen the effects of "dark energy" on the most massive collapsed objects in the universe using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. See article.
g Abodes - New studies indicate that Europa may harbor a more dynamic ocean than previously believed beneath its icy exterior. The gravitational pull of Jupiter could be producing powerful waves in the ocean, which in turn could have implications on the habitability of the unique moon. See article.
g Intelligence - Neuroscientists from Duke University Medical Center have discovered that older people use their brains differently than younger people when it comes to storing memories, particularly those associated with negative emotions. See article.
g Cosmicus - For humanity to truly become a spacefaring race, we will need to construct permanent space habitats, a space station intended as a permanent settlement rather than as a simple waystation or other specialized facility. It would be a "city" in space, where people would live, work and raise families. See article.
g Learning - Here are some great teacher resources on space biology. The modules cover such topics as “Life in the Universe,” “Radiation Biology” and “Life in Space Environments.” Each module includes an introduction, readings and references, teaching resources and research and applications.
g Imagining - Hollywood and the scientific community have always had an uneasy relationship. Scientists want the details right, and don't like to be stereotyped as a bunch of pasty, lab-coated, socially stunted dweebs. Hollywood wants to tell good stories and sell tickets. Now, both sides are realizing those aren't mutually exclusive goals. See article.
g Aftermath - Humans live and die by approximations. We are seldom as perfect or as accurate as we would like to be. And as we contemplate what we might say to an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, maybe that's a point we should emphasize. See article.

Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future


Ryan Shulman said...

Your "Aftermath" article is very interesting.... Do we have to try so hard to be heard by alien civilizations? I find that this article is wrong in the fact that humans would send a message so open, so filled with lies.... aliens would look more towards our sciences, our language, the way we display our technology and sciences.

Rob Bignell said...

Your point is well taken, Ryan. It seems to me that the object of communicating with another civilization is to gain a better understanding of the universe, of ourselves and our place in it, and to see if they have any information for solving our problems. Even if ETI's intent were malicious, it would still want to first know about our level of science/technology, our philosophical outlook to gauge our response to an attack, etc.