Saturday, July 10, 2010

Martian dry lake beds and could ‘Talosians’ exist?

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 - What is the connection between dry lake beds and following the water? The answer is Mars. See article.
g Life - Saber-toothed cats may be best known for their supersized canines, but they also had exceptionally strong forelimbs for pinning prey before delivering the fatal bite, says a new study. See article.
g Intelligence - Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have found that women and men eat more chocolate as depressive symptoms increase, suggesting an association between mood and chocolate. See article.
g Message - Book alert: Scour your used bookstore shelves for "Life Beyond Earth," by Timothy Ferris. Rock-solid science writer Ferris has covered this ground before. In the two-hour PBS documentary that he wrote and narrated - which shares the title, text, and many of the images of this generously illustrated book - Ferris tackles two age-old questions about the potentially universal nature of life: Are we alone, and, if not, is anybody listening? See review.
g Cosmicus - Many people still think that to get the chance to go to space you've got to try to be an astronaut. Unfortunately, the chance of getting to be a government astronaut is tiny, simply because there are so few - and there's no prospect of a lot more being employed. However, don't despair. Far more people will go to space as visitors. See article.
g Imagining - Star Trek’s very first alien, the Talosians, pose quite an evolutionary challenge: Their heads are oversized because of large, powerful brains capable of telepathy and even mind control of others. First off, a brain of that size must demand a lot of energy. This is somewhat addressed through the large arteries and veins apparent on their bald heads; their frail bodies also indicate fewer cells below the neckline for oxygen-carrying blood to support. But they probably also need greater lung capacity to cycle more oxygen into their bodies as well as a larger heart for pumping that oxygen-laden blood to and through the brain. Their bodies don’t indicate larger lungs, however. Another problem with their head/brain size is giving birth. The enormity of the head is limited by the size and shape of the pelvis — and their human shape and gait indicates they couldn’t give birth to an infant with a head any larger than ours. A possibility is that their the brain primarily develops outside of the womb; perhaps they grow in their telepathic powers as they age. Another possibility: They are not born naturally but artificially created, indicating a separation from among the most basic instincts – mating. The Talosians, after all, are fairly unimaginative creatures, dependent upon probing the minds of others for new experiences! As for their telepathic and power of illusion capabilities, we’ll just have to presume that somehow their brain lobes have evolved sections capable of connecting and interacting across the medium of air with another creature’s neurons.

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