Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Did galactic tides prompt life on Earth and why the search for ETI matters

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 - A galactic tide is defined in the international astronomical community as a tidal force that is generated by a galaxy on surrounding dwarf companions, or even its own solar systems and their asteroid belts. The Milky Way, being the massive galaxy that it is, produces large amounts of tidal forces of its own, which also act on our solar system, and especially on the Oort Comet Cloud, a hypothesized spherical cloud of comets and other space rocks that lies roughly 50,000 AU from the Sun. Some experts have even recently proposed that these interactions may have prompted life on Earth. See article.
g Abodes - New research, focusing on shallow hydrothermal vents, is shedding light on a possible location for where life on Earth began. See article.
g Life - For a brief span of time, about 542 million years ago, the world belonged to the Ediacarans, a group of life forms so physiologically unique that biologists have considered giving them their own taxonomic kingdom. See article.
g Intelligence - Crows have shown that two tools are better than one when it comes to problem solving, scientists say. See article.
g Message - WHAT is the biggest question in science? The origin of consciousness? How to combine quantum mechanics with general relativity? These are big, but arguably there's a bigger one: is there anyone out there? See article.
g Cosmicus - Quote of the Day: “Space is the final frontier for humankind … It is the place that we will always know the least about because of its almost limitless extent. But it also offers the potential of almost unlimited opportunity.” – Brian Schmidt, astrophysicist
g Aftermath - If we do make contact with extraterrestrials, they’ll probably be a Type II or III Kardashev civilization. What’s a Kardashev civilization? Here’s a related story on the Kardashev scale.

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