Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ecosystem engineers and optimism for finding ETI

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 - New research shows that an optic effect called “strong gravitational lensing” is distorting the number and shape of the Universe's most distant galaxies. The study could have implications for astrobiologists who are studying the nature of galactic environments in the Universe and the possible locations in which to search for habitable worlds. See article.
g Abodes - A chronology of 1,000 years of earthquakes at the southern end of the San Andreas Fault nixes the idea that lake changes in the now-dry region caused past quakes. However, researchers say, the timeline pulled from sediment in three deep trenches confirms that this portion of the fault is long past the expected time for a major temblor that would strongly shake the Los Angeles Basin. See article.
g Life - Researchers have revealed that ants have a big impact on their local environment as a result of their activity as “ecosystem engineers” and predators. See article.
g Intelligence - A new study has found that an administration of testosterone under the tongue in volunteers negatively affects a person's ability to “mind read,” an indication of empathy. See article.
g Message - "Surely one of the most marvelous feats of 20th-century science would be the firm proof that life exists on another planet. In that case, the thesis that life develops spontaneously when the conditions are favorable would be far more firmly established, and our whole view of the problem of the origin of life would be confirmed." Stanley Miller and Harold Urey wrote in 1959. Unfortunately, their dream has not been realized, and as we begin this new millennium the question of whether life exists beyond the Earth remains unanswered. However, there are reasons for optimism that in the not-too-distant future we may have an answer. See article. Note: This article is from 2001.
g Cosmicus - NASA can't survive without strong partnerships with private space companies, says the space agency's chief, Charles Bolden. See article.

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