Monday, January 17, 2011

Definitions of life through the ages and discovering Galaxy X

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 dwarf galaxy that is too dim to see but is suspected to orbit our own Milky Way may soon be revealed using a new mathematical technique that analyzes the ripples of gas in spiral galaxies. See article.
g Life - In spite of the spectacular developments in our understanding of the molecular basis that underlies biological phenomena, we still lack a generally agreed-upon definition of life, but this is not for want of trying. Life is an empirical concept; and, as suggested by the many unsuccessful efforts to define it, this task is likely to remain, at best, a work in progress. Although phenomenological characterizations of life are feasible, a precise definition of life remains an elusive intellectual endeavor. This is not surprising: As Nietszche once wrote, there are concepts that can be defined, whereas others only have a history. Here’s an essay that discusses some of the manifold (and often unsatisfactory) definitions of life that have been attempted from different intellectual and scientific perspectives and reflect, at least in part, the key role that historical frameworks play.
g Message - What sort of signal would satisfactorily announce an extraterrestrial intelligence as detected by radio-emission or light reception? For an opinion article on what sort of signal is a SETI hit, click here.
g Cosmicus - Researchers have demonstrated bio-inspired structures that self-assemble from simple building blocks: spheres. See article.

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