Friday, November 12, 2010

Martian missions to find life and searching for Dyson Shells

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 - An ancient eruption of a supermassive black hole in the Milky Way may have inflated two huge bubbles of gamma rays which were just now discovered and are considered a new type of astronomical object. See article.
g Abodes - One of the reasons NASA sends so many missions to Mars is because of the planet’s potential for life. Current missions search for factors thought to be necessary for life, such as liquid water and organic molecules, but some scientists now say the search for life itself should be the highest priority for the next decade of Mars robotic probes. See article.
g Life - In theory, plants could be the ultimate "green" factories, engineered to pump out the kinds of raw materials we now obtain from petroleum-based chemicals. But in reality, getting plants to accumulate high levels of desired products has been an elusive goal. Now, in a first step toward achieving industrial-scale green production, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory and collaborators at Dow AgroSciences report engineering a plant that produces industrially relevant levels of compounds that could potentially be used to make plastics. See article.
g Intelligence - DNA evidence suggests that immigrants from the Ancient Near East brought farming to Europe, and spread the practice to the region's hunter-gatherer communities, according to Australian-led research. See article.
g Message - Unexplained or incompletely studied astrophysical phenomena such as odd star populations of the galaxy NGC 5907 or the asymmetry of increases and decreases in the brightness of long-period variable stars provide us with a number of locations that may be studied for signs of Dyson Shells. If we free ourselves from anthropocentric perspectives and combine the ideas of Dyson, Minsky and Suffern as well as the technological progress of recent decades, we can envision advanced civilizations at the limits of physical laws. Observations directed towards stars decreasing in visual magnitude or searching for stellar occultations by large cold dark objects, merit serious consideration as future strategies in optical SETI. See article.
g Cosmicus - Blinking numbers on a liquid-crystal display often indicate that a device's clock needs resetting. But in the laboratory of Zhong Lin Wang at Georgia Tech, the blinking number on a small LCD signals the success of a five-year effort to power conventional electronic devices with nanoscale generators that harvest mechanical energy from the environment using an array of tiny nanowires. See article.

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