Thursday, January 22, 2009

First ground-based detection of thermal emissions from extrasolar planets and could lifeforms like the Thasians exist?

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 - Determining the habitability of red dwarf systems could help reveal how likely extraterrestrial life is to exist, as red dwarfs make up a majority of all the stars in the galaxy. See article.
g Abodes - Two independent groups have made the first ground-based detection of thermal emissions from extrasolar planets. The studies open a new frontier for monitoring alien worlds from Earth, and also paves the way for further observations of extrasolar atmospheres. See article.
g Life - The intense radiation around Jupiter will complicate possible future missions to the moon Europa. A new project plans to create a "radiation weather map" that will help pinpoint regions where astrobiologically-relevant molecules may survive. See article.
g Message - It’s a quite old news story, but the issues raised remain relevant and greatly underexamined: If E.T. phones our home, will it be safe to answer? See article. Note: This article is from 1996.
g Cosmicus - The Universities Space Research Association has announce NASA's recent selection of a team of scientists from USRA's Lunar and Planetary Institute and the Johnson Space Center to be one of seven initial members of NASA's Lunar Science Institute See article.
g Imagining - An early “Star Trek” alien is the Thasians, who serve a deux ex machina role in one episode. The Thasians apparently are a noncorporeal life form that gave a human child incredible powers of telekinesis. Such capabilities, as exhibited by the child (now a 17-year-old teenager) appear to stem from within his own physical being, however. The Thasians themselves also are dependent on the physical reality of a spacecraft for traveling beyond their planet. Of course, how a noncorporeal life form might exist is beyond our physical science, though one might suspect it is an organized pattern of electrical impulses, somehow held together and organized without use of a physical platform (such as our brain cells) — though their powers can be transferred to such a platform, as occurs with the boy. Most likely the Thasians did not evolve as noncorporeal life forms but instead, being eons ahead of us in technology, rely on machines (using teleportation-like technology) to do their work; their own beings might be interfaced with such machines so a mere concentrated thought can command it. The Thasians, thus feeling encumbered by physical form, shifted to another dimension — again, more fiction than reality — where the very nature of that space allows the beings (electrical patterns) to remain organized, and perhaps better able to communicate with their machines. Of course, too little was said about the Thasians in the episode, though the boy did note that the Thasians do not “feel” or “touch” in the same way that humans do.
g Aftermath - Here’s an intriguing article that is frequently referenced in astrobiology papers: “"The Consequences of a Discovery: Different Scenarios", by astronomer Ivan Almar. Note: This article dates from 1995.

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