Thursday, April 15, 2010

Defining a planet and how views of ourselves affect our views of ETI

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 - A planet-like object has been found to be orbiting a cold, miniature star called a brown dwarf, calling into question just what it means to be a planet.
See article.
g Message - Fifty years ago today, Frank Drake, then a 29-year-old researcher at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, pointed an 85-foot (26-m) dish at Tau Ceti, a Sun-like star just 12 light-years distant. He'd tuned the receiver to the 21-cm (1420-MHz) — a ubiquitous emission from hydrogen gas that, he reasoned, would be a logical "hailing frequency" for interstellar communication. Drake switched on the dish's amplifier and watched a chart recorder for the tell-tale squiggles that would signal a radio transmission. The modern search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, had begun. See article.
g Cosmicus - President Obama will seek to promote his vision for the nation’s human space flight program on Thursday, just two days after three storied Apollo astronauts — including Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon — called the new plans “devastating.” See article.
g Learning - Here’s a cool set of classroom lessons courtesy of NASA: Astroventure, in which students search for and design a habitable planet. See article.
g Aftermath - How will our views about ourselves affect our views about ETI? See article. Note: This article is from 2002.

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