Tuesday, December 07, 2010

What NASA’s arsenic-life discovery means for finding ET and fifth-graders test Martian drill

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 pair of neutron stars spiraling toward each other until they merge in a violent explosion should produce detectable gravitational waves. A new study predicts for the first time where such mergers are likely to occur in the local galactic neighborhood. See article.
g Abodes - New research shows that temperature has a greater effect on the rate of some chemical reactions than previously thought. The study indicates that certain reactions necessary for life could have happened faster on a warm Earth, reducing the time necessary for evolution to occur. See article.
g Life - PlanRad talks with NASA Astrobiology Program Director Mary Voytek about last week's announcement about the first lifeform that substitutes arsenic for phosphorous to support many basic life functions. The discovery has much to say about the search for extraterrestrial life. See article.
g Intelligence - Over the next year, spiders watching videos of their prey are going to help biologists understand how animals choose which visual elements to attend to in their environments. She believes we are on the verge of gaining important new knowledge about how brains and specialized sensory systems work together to process visual information. See article.
g Message - What are the chances that an alien signal has been sent our way just at the right moment to splash upon our antennas during that brief interval? If the extraterrestrials beam their broadcasts to the whole galaxy (or at least a big chunk of it), the chances are 100 percent. See article. This article is from 2006.
g Cosmicus - China is shifting its space program into high gear, with recently announced goals to build a manned space station by 2020 and send a spacecraft to Mars by 2013 — all on the heels of its second robotic moon mission this year. See article.
g Learning - NASA’s IceBite project is in Antarctica testing a drill for possible use on a future mission to Mars. In a recent trial of the drill’s remote-operations software, the operators were a bit younger than usual: they were fifth-grade students, controlling the drill from a classroom in Pleasanton, Calif. See article.

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