Monday, October 25, 2010

Continuing debate over Martian fossils and a one-way space colonization program

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 - Is the super lithium-rich red giant rapid rotator G0928+73.2600 a case for planet accretion? See article.
g Abodes - Comets and asteroids may have more in common than scientists once thought. Not only do they sometimes behave the same way, but a new study finds that water ice and organic material are important components of both. See article.
g Life - The fight continues over a meteorite that some say contains evidence of past life on Mars. Both sides claim to wield Occam's razor, believing that biology – or anything but – provides the simplest explanation of the Mars rock’s many strange features. See article.
g Message - Here’s an intriguing paper that is frequently referenced in astrobiology papers: "The Consequences of a Discovery: Different Scenarios" by astronomer Ivan Almar. This paper is from 1995.
g Cosmicus - When the Europeans came to colonize North America, most of them knew they would never see their homes again. Now, a Washington State professor thinks we should take that same approach to outer space. See article.
g Learning - Chris Impey, when he's not helping to run the department of astronomy at the University of Arizona, researches the origin and evolution of galaxies. 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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