Sunday, January 16, 2011

Earth from a xenobiological perspective and video game designs RNA molecules

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 - Cosmic lenses created by the ultra-strong gravity of some objects in space may spoil upcoming estimates of the number of galaxies during the universe's earliest days by as much as a factor of 10, a new study warns. See article.
g Abodes - The magnitude of climate change during Earth's deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes. See article.
g Life - Xenobiology – the study of alien lifeforms – is a major subdiscipline within the xenological sciences. Its subject matter is the set of all possible life systems in the universe, rather than just the biology of a single world. The common assertion that xenobiology is “a science in search of a subject” because no extraterrestrials have yet been found ignores the long evolutionary history of our planet. From the cosmic point of view, Earth is an alien world as exotic as any in the galaxy. See article. This article is from 1981.
g Cosmicus - An American space tourism company that sells multimillion-dollar tourist flights to the International Space Station announced Jan. 12 that it will resume the high-society spaceflights in 2013, after a five-year lull. See article.
g Learning - A new video game is teaching gamers the principles for designing molecules of RNA. Each week, the top designs from the game will be synthesized in a biochemistry lab for scientists to study. RNA is one of the key regulators in living cells. Studying RNA can teach astrobiologists about some of life's most basic mechanisms. 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.
g Aftermath - Given the plethora of New Age/UFOlogy Web sites about alien contact, it’s refreshing to find one that’s serious. Try the “extraterrestrial intelligence, implications following first contact” entry at astrobiologist David Darling’s site “The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight”. It includes some links and a mini reference list.

Read this blogger’s books

No comments: