Thursday, September 09, 2010

Carbon-based chemical building blocks of life on Mars and tuning in to the universe

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 - Scientists are planning a new mission to travel closer to the Sun than ever before. See article.
g Abodes - Experiments prompted by a 2008 surprise from NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander suggest that soil examined by NASA’s Viking Mars landers in 1976 may have contained carbon-based chemical building blocks of life. The findings could make a difference in how astrobiologists search for signs of past or present life on the red planet. See article.
g Life - A York University doctoral student who discovered a new species of bee on his way to the lab one morning has completed a study that examines 84 species of sweat bees in Canada. Nineteen of these species - including the one Jason Gibbs found in downtown Toronto − are new to science because they have never been identified or described before. See article.
g Intelligence - Success is sexy -- a statement that applies not just to human beings, but also to various other animals. Male bonobos appear to benefit from this phenomenon as well. A team of researchers led by Gottfried Hohmann of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology has discovered that the higher up a male bonobo is placed in the social hierarchy, the greater his mating success is with female bonobos. See article.
g Message - Book alert: H. Paul Shuch’s “Tune in the universe! A radio amateur's guide to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence” (published by ARRL in 2001 in CD format) provides a good introduction to SETI by the executive director of the SETI League. The contents range from how to build your own radio receiver in your backyard to Shuch's selected memoirs and songs. See article.
g Cosmicus - A new theoretical physics model helps define the subatomic origins of ferromagnetism - the everyday "magnetism" of compass needles and refrigerator magnets. See article.
g Learning - God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking argues in a new book. See article.

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