Saturday, February 05, 2011

Radical cultural shift following first contact and the accelerating pace of planet discovery

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 - Astronomers may have found the missing link between gas-filled, star-forming galaxies and older, gas-depleted galaxies typically characterized as "red and dead." See article.
g Abodes - Astronomer Geoff Marcy has had a hand in finding more alien planets than anyone else. He helped spot 70 of the first 100. He also found the first multi-planet system around a sun-like star, and he discovered the first planet that transits — or passes in front of — its star from our perspective on Earth. caught up with Marcy at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society, to chat about the accelerating pace of planet discovery, what we still don't know about alien worlds and whether there might be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. See interview.
g Life - The mechanism that controls the internal 24-hour clock of all forms of life from human cells to algae has been identified by scientists. See article.
g Intelligence - For the first time, researchers report in detail how a chimpanzee mother responds to the death of her infant. The chimpanzee mother shows behaviors not typically seen directed toward live infants, such as placing her fingers against the neck and laying the infant's body on the ground to watch it from a distance. The observations provide unique insights into how chimpanzees, one of humans' closest primate relatives, learn about death. See article.
g Cosmicus - This year, NASA will launch its final Space Shuttle missions. The development of the Shuttle had sprung from the supersonic rocket planes of Chuck Yeager, and was an answer to the question: what is the best way to send man into space? See article.
g Aftermath - Clearly, if we are not alone in the universe, there are some unavoidable theological and philosophical consequences. We feel that the problem of extraterrestrial life is one of the most important questions raised in science to the present. We should reflect on the consequences of a positive result of either finding extraterrestrial microorganisms, or receiving a radio message form an extraterrestrial source: When such discovery occurs, the implications are likely to have an impact on our culture requiring adjustments possibly more radical than those arising from the evidence that humans descend from microorganisms. See article. This article is from 1999.

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