Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Switching SETI strategy and biology of the Time Lords

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation. Here's today's news:
g Abodes - A new study indicates that temperatures may rise more than projected if society keeps emitting greenhouse gasses. The study is based on data concerning climate change during Earth's deep past. See article.
g Life - For the first time, scientists have shown that specific changes in cell membrane voltage and ion flow are a key determinant in whether an organism regenerates a head or a tail. Biologists were able to control the shape of tissue regenerated by amputated planarian (flatworm) segments by manipulating the natural electrical signals that determine head-tail identity in the worms. See article.
g Intelligence - That human evolution follows a progressive trajectory is one of the most deeply-entrenched assumptions about our species. This assumption is often expressed in popular media by showing cavemen speaking in grunts and monosyllables (the Geico Cavemen being a notable exception). But is this assumption correct? Were the earliest humans significantly different from us? See article.
g Message - Here’s why the world's biggest search should reverse its strategy — and why the first signal we hear will probably come from an extremely powerful civilization extremely far away. See article.
g Cosmicus - Astronauts sent to colonize Mars would be well advised to avoid getting pregnant en route to the Red Planet, according to a review of radiation hazards by three scientists. See article.
g Imagining - Could the Time Lords, an alien species of “Doctor Who” fame, actually exist? If so, what would be their physiology? See article.
g Aftermath - The statement that extraterrestrial intelligence exists or doesn’t can have the parallel statement that God exists or doesn’t. Some people say there’s already sufficient evidence of existence for both. If you set aside abductions and miracles, it’s true that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence for either. However, if and when humanity ever detects evidence of an extraterrestrial intelligence, it will break the symmetry of these two statements and, in fact, that evidence will be inconsistent with the existence of God or at least organized religions. See article. This article is from 2004.

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