Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Explaining and defining life, transmitting A Message from Earth

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 - Using two NASA X-ray satellites, astronomers have discovered what drives the "heartbeats" seen in the light from an unusual black hole system. These results give new insight into the ways that black holes can regulate their intake and severely curtail their growth. See article.
g Life - Here’s a paper that addresses the open philosophical and scientific problem of explaining and defining life. This problem is controversial, and there is nothing approaching a consensus about what life is. This raises a philosophical meta-question: Why is life so controversial and so difficult to define? The paper proposes that we can attribute a significant part of the controversy over life to use of a Cartesian approach to explaining life, which seeks necessary and sufficient conditions for being an individual living organism, out of the context of other organisms and the abiotic environment.
g Message - Humans already are sending messages aliens – evne though we don’t really know if anyone is on the receiving end. For example, AMFE - A Message from Earth - is a high-powered digital radio signal that was sent on 9 October 2008 towards Gliese 581 c, a large terrestrial extrasolar planet orbiting the red dwarf star Gliese 581. See article.
g Cosmicus - Companies hoping to mine the moon's huge stores of water ice can likely do so legally, experts say, though firms may want to hold off until new legislation grants them explicit title over whatever lunar muck they dredge up. See article.
g Learning - Digitalis Education Solutions has published 12 astronomy lesson plans for use with kindergarten through 12th grade students. Lessons are aligned with the National Science Education Standards and cover a variety of topics, including moon phases, solstices, equinoxes and debunking astrology. See article.

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