Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meteorite’s wildly varying travels and the politics of finding life beyond Earth

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 have spotted an ancient galaxy cluster that appears surprisingly young when compared to its more recently formed relatives, a new study finds. See article.
g Abodes - A micro-probe analysis of the core and outer layers of a meteorite has yielded new information about how the meteorite formed. The study provides the first evidence that dust particles experienced wildly varying environments during the time when planets were forming in our solar system. See article.
g Life - In the mating game, some female mites are mightier than their mates, new research suggests. The evidence comes, in part, from 40 million-year-old mating mites preserved in Baltic amber. See article.
g Intelligence - New research from anthropologists has confirmed Charles Darwin's speculation that the evolution of unique features in the human hand was influenced by increased tool use in our ancestors. See article.
g Message - Book alert: In “Faint Echoes, Distant Stars: The Science and Politics of Finding Life Beyond Earth,” Ben Bova proffers a good general history of astrobiology, or the history and structure of life in the cosmos -one of the newest fields of scientific research. He covers astronomy briefly and gives more detail about the political and technological history of NASA, showing the effects of politics and accidents on the field. He also notes what we have discovered about the history of life on this planet, what we are looking for beyond Earth and the solar system, and how we are presently going about it. With so much to cover, this is hardly an in-depth account, but it is a very good introduction for the general reader and even the specialist who wants a look at the larger picture. Bova seasons his account with entertaining and illustrative historical anecdotes, so that, as a bonus, we get an idea of what NASA has been doing since the end of the Apollo program and something about what it hopes to do in the future that many readers will live to see. See article.

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