Saturday, March 12, 2011

Giant planet orbiting Beta Pictoris and why there’s no Fermi Paradox

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 - Hobbits and orcs may exist only in fiction, but a real-life supermassive black hole has spawned a structure that looks strikingly like the evil "Eye of Sauron" from J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" fantasy novels and the films inspired by them. See article.
g Abodes - Scientists have made new observations of a giant planet orbiting Beta Pictoris. See article.
g Life - Scientists have revived 100-year-old spores that had laid buried and inactive in sediments at the bottom of the sea. The study provides a glimpse into diatom communities that go back 40,000 generations. See article.
g Intelligence - The brain is a black box. A complex circuitry of neurons fires information through channels, much like the inner workings of a computer chip. But while computer processors are regimented with the deft economy of an assembly line, neural circuits are impenetrable masses. Think tumbleweed. See article.
g Message - Here’s an intriguing piece: “There is No Fermi Paradox.” The "Fermi Paradox," an argument that extraterrestrial intelligence cannot exist because it has not yet been observed, is a logical fallacy. This "paradox" is a formally invalid inference, both because it requires modal operators lying outside the first-order propositional calculus and because it is unsupported by the observational record. See article. This article is from 1985.
g Cosmicus - researchers have developed a new switching device that takes quantum communication to a new level. The device is a practical step toward creating a network that takes advantage of the mysterious and powerful world of quantum mechanics. See article.
g Imagining - The alien invasion film "Battle: Los Angeles," opening in theaters this weekend, is clearly a work of fiction. But the marketing campaign behind the movie seems determined to ground it to reality by tying it to historical events — specifically, the World War II air raid false alarm that came to be known as the Battle of Los Angeles. See article.

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