Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Felisa Wolfe-Simon comments on arsenic controversy and advanced ETI broadcasting their location

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 - A UK-led international team of astronomers have presented the first conclusive evidence for a dramatic surge in star birth in a newly discovered population of massive galaxies in the early universe. Their measurements confirm the idea that stars formed most rapidly about 11 billion years ago, or about three billion years after the Big Bang, and that the rate of star formation is much faster than was thought. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists have a new theory about how the strange ridge belting Saturn's outermost moon, Iapetus, formed. Understanding the Saturn system is important for astrobiologists trying to determine whether or not habitable environments could persist on the moons of giant planets. See article.
g Life - Tyrannosaurus rex may have been a fearsome carnivore, but many of its closest relatives were vegetarians, according to a new study. See article.
g Intelligence - In the tropical rainforest of Uganda's Kibale National Park, a young female chimpanzee seems to have adopted a stick. She's holding it close to her abdomen and carrying it with her everywhere she goes. In a new study, the first to document this behavior in the wild, researchers argue that stick cradling may be akin to human children playing with dolls. And because the team observed it far more frequently in female chimps, the findings suggest that certain gender-specific behaviors are hard-wired.
See article.
g Message - Would anyone deliberately beam high-powered signals into space? Can we assume that extraterrestrial societies would broadcast in ways that would mark their location as plainly as a flag on a golf green? See article.
g Learning - Three weeks ago, Felisa Wolfe-Simon, 33, a former performance oboist with a doctorate in oceanography and a NASA fellowship in astrobiology, published a paper online in Science about bacteria that can use arsenic instead of phosphorus in DNA and other biomolecules. Controversy has followed. Science recently offered this exclusive interview with Wolfe-Simon about the controversy. See interview.

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