Wednesday, February 10, 2010

New images of Pluto and lichen at home in vacuum of space

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - New images from the Hubble Space Telescope show that Pluto is undergoing seasonal changes. This change of seasons is evident in the surface color and brightness of the dwarf planet. The images are helping scientists understand planetary processes in our solar system, and will be used to calculate exposure times for the cameras aboard NASA's New Horizons missions when it arrives at Pluto. See article.
g Life - Space is a hostile environment for living things, but small organisms on the Expose-E experiment unit outside Europe's Columbus ISS lab module have resisted the solar UV radiation, cosmic rays, vacuum and varying temperatures for 18 months. A certain lichen seems to be particularly happy in open space! See article.
g Message - What would be a sign of alien intelligence? Forget mathematics — try a simple, pure-tone radio signal. See article. Note: This article is from 2003.
g Cosmicus - Despite the Obama administration's multibillion dollar bet that a scrappy band of entrepreneurs can revitalize the U.S. manned space program, its budget also offers sweeteners to some of the nation's largest aerospace contractors. See article.

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Laurel Kornfeld said...

"today's child, gazing at the night sky and dreaming of adventures amid the stars will find as an adult that such journeys are reality. "

I hope you mean this metaphorically and not literally. The latter would mean you're saying only chronological children could as adults find such journeys are reality. Hello, longevity is a growing science too. It happens to naturally run on both sides of my family, and between genetics and science, I very realistically believe I--and many others my age--will see these journeys. It is tremendously unfair to assume that we won't.

Rob Bignell said...

What's tremendously unfair is that we're not already undertaking such journeys ... Nixon was wrong to slash Apollo in the 1970s, Reagan and Bush 41 were wrong to not follow through on their calls for space exploration, and Congress, Ford, Carter, Clinton - and now Obama - were wrong for lacking any real vision of humanity in space.

As for longevity, I have my doubts about the immediate future of medical science making any great breakthroughs to greatly extend the lives of anyone now over 20. It's not that such breakthoughs aren't possible, but they will require a real commitment to scientific research - and that's about as lacking in the medical sciences as it is in the space sciences. Consider cancer - Nixon declared "war" on cancer on the early 1970s and called for a cure by 1975 ... Congress didn't follow through with adequate funding and no president since has made a similar call.

Rather than make veiled claims of ageism, may I suggest that all of us work together to encourage our leaders to develop and follow through on a real vision for humanity in space - and for the improved health and longevity of all human beings (indeed, the latter certainly will be an outcome of any concerted effort at space exploration).

Laurel Kornfeld said...

Well, I'm no fan of these presidents and never was. I'm very disappointed over how much money is being thrown away into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have both been going on for the better part of a decade with no end in sight.

I totally agree about working together to encourage our leaders to develop a viable space program and to support funding for health and longevity. However, people will not be motivated to support these initiatives if they are convinced that they will never benefit personally from the results. And conversely, they will be more likely to support these initiatives if these goals are presented to them as visions for their own futures.

I do resent any assumption that it is only children who will see and benefit from these developments. Let's inform citizens that all of us will see and benefit. No one knows for certain how quickly these investments will pay off.

Please email me in the year 2060. I guarantee you I will be here to see these space adventures and health advancements. Dr. Oz, a doctor who hosts a daily TV show on health, believes it is completely possible for humans to live to 115 or 120 while maintaining a good quality of life, and that this more and more will be our future.

Rob Bignell said...

You're on: I'll email you in 2060 - and I'll do it from Mars.

Laurel Kornfeld said...

Okay, I'll stay in touch. You do realize, you may have to send your email to me all the way to Pluto.