Saturday, November 14, 2009

Stars masquerading as planets and would ETI understand our pictures?

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Stars - Astrophysicists at the University of Warwick and Kiel University have discovered two Earth-sized bodies with oxygen rich atmospheres - however there is a bit of a disappointing snag for anyone looking for a potential home for alien life, or even a future home for ourselves, as they are not planets but are actually two unusual white dwarf stars. See article.
g Abodes - Astrobiology Magazine's climate blog, The Hot Zone, recently spoke with Dr. Marty Mlynczak of NASA's Langley Research Center about the limitations of the technology we have on hand to measure climate change. Some of the things we can't measure could be important in understanding the links between climate and habitability. See article.
g Message - A picture is worth a thousand words, especially if you're trying to get your point across to someone who doesn't speak your language. At least that has been the assumption of many proposals for communicating with extraterrestrials; in a recent image beamed into outer space, the world’s largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, images of a human being, the double helix of DNA and our solar system were included. But would pictures necessarily be understood at interstellar distances? See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - Scientists and curiosity seekers who want to know what a partially or completely cloaked object would look like in real life can now get their wish -- virtually. A team of researchers has created a new visualization tool that can render a room containing such an object, showing the visual effects of such a cloaking mechanism and its imperfections. See article.
g Aftermath - Quote of the Day: "The possibility of intelligent life beyond Earth … . Few important subjects are so data-poor, so subject to unwarranted and biased extrapolations - and so caught up in mankind's ultimate destiny - as is this one." — David Brin

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