Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Aliens see no point in sending messages and Mars orbiter celebrates fifth anniversary

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 using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope have ruled out an alternate theory on the nature of dark energy after recalculating the expansion rate of the universe to unprecedented accuracy. See article.
g Abodes - Until now it was thought that once a volcano's magma chamber had cooled down it remained dormant for centuries before it could be remobilized by fresh magma. A theoretical model was tested on two major eruptions and completely overturned this hypothesis: the reawakening of a chamber could take place in just a few months. This research should lead to a reassessment of the dangerousness of some dormant volcanoes. See article.
g Life - Sea-ice algae plays an important role supporting the food web in places like the Arctic Ocean. New research shows that this algae can engineer ice to its advantage by secreting a gel-like mucus that acts as a kind of anti-freeze. The study shows a unique way in which life has evolved to survive under extreme environmental stresses. See article.
g Intelligence - For people, being touched can initiate many different reactions from comfort to discomfort, from intimacy to aggression. But how might people react if they were touched by a robot? Would they recoil, or would they take it in stride? In an initial study, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology found people generally had a positive response toward being touched by a robotic nurse, but that their perception of the robot's intent made a significant difference. See article.
g Message - Put yourself in the situation of the aliens, out there somewhere in the galaxy. They surmise that Earth looks promising for the emergence of intelligent life one day, but they have no idea when. There would be little point in beaming radio messages in this direction for eons in the vague hope that one day radio technology would be developed here and someone would decide to tune in. See article. This article is from 2004.
g Cosmicus - A prolific NASA orbiter has celebrated its fifth year at Mars this month and the spacecraft has no plans to slow down anytime soon. See article.

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