Friday, March 18, 2011

Why the Fermi Paradox is a pseudo-paradox and Messenger arrives at Mercury

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 - NASA's MESSENGER probe has become the first spacecraft to enter into orbit around the planet Mercury. Studying Mercury will help astrobiologists understand the nature of small, rocky planets and the conditions that lead to habitability on such worlds. See article.
g Life - For the vast majority of plants and animals, the 'bigger is better' view of evolution may not be far off the mark, says a new broad-scale study of natural selection. Organisms with bigger bodies or faster growth rates tend to live longer, mate more and produce more offspring, whether they are deer or damselflies, the authors report. See article.
g Intelligence - People with synesthesia often report perceiving letters as appearing in different colors. But how do their brains accomplish this feat? See article.
g Message - Fermi's Paradox is not a true paradox because the search space has not been sufficiently explored. See article.
g Cosmicus - A high-tech astrophysics experiment that will probe the mysteries of our universe is getting ready to fly to the International Space Station aboard the space shuttle Endeavour when it launches on its final mission next month. See article.
g Learning - The Cardiff Centre for Astrobiology in the United Kingdom is being closed by Cardiff University for what the university calls "budgetary and strategic reasons". Chandra Wickramasinghe, director of the centre, has said that he plans to turn it into a limited company. Nature asks him about his work, and how he intends to go it alone. See interview.
g Aftermath - Book alert: Science fiction writers have given us many fine novels contemplating humankind's first contact with intelligent extraterrestrials. But our nonfiction world has not thought much about what to do if we are actually faced with this situation. In “Extraterrestrial Intelligence,” Jean Heidmann, chief astronomer at the Paris Observatory (and self-styled bioastronomer), offers a book on the subject that is at once serious and fun. Heidmann's obvious joy in raw speculation - all of it grounded in real science - is contagious. If aliens send us a message from many light years away, for example, how should we respond? Heidmann reviews the protocols established in the SETI Declaration and then offers his own suggestion: send them the entire contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica. See article.

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