Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pulsating star hosts exoplanet and the earliest life’s feedback loops

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 group of researchers has discovered, for the first time, a delta Scuti pulsating star that hosts a hot giant transiting planet. See article.
g Abodes - A new study shows how the fossil record can greatly aid in interpreting modern biodiversity and ecological trends. The data could be useful for astrobiologists studying how climate and ecosystem change could affect the future of life on Earth. See article.
g Life - All life today incorporates a variety of systems controlled by negative feedback loops and sometimes amplified by positive feedback loops. The first forms of life necessarily also required primitive versions of feedback, yet surprisingly little emphasis has been given to the question of how feedback emerged out of primarily chemical systems. One chemical system has been established that spontaneously develops autocatalytic feedback, the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction. See essay.
g Intelligence - Researchers have discovered a molecule that can make brain cells resistant to programmed cell death or apoptosis. See article.
g Message - Two opposing tendencies paradoxically coexist in terrestrial consciousness - the insistent quest for intelligent signals from other civilizations and the persistent aversion to any attempts to transmit such signals from Earth toward probable fellow intelligent beings. If typical for our entire Universe, such manifestations of intelligence would make the search for other civilizations totally meaningless. See article.
g Cosmicus - Researchers from Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are the first to develop a curvilinear camera, much like the human eye, with the significant feature of a zoom capability, unlike the human eye. See article.
g Aftermath - What role will extraterrestrials play in humanity’s future? Here’s a paper by University of Toronto Professor Allen Tough. Though written more than 20 years ago, the paper contains plenty of useful ideas that are fresh (and ignored) today, especially those about extraterrestrial behavior and help.

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