Sunday, 5 October 2014

Planetary Construction Zones Titan As Early Earth And Tiny Devices For Martian Explorers
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 - The Spitzer Space Telescope has discovered significant amounts of icy organic materials sprinkled throughout several "planetary construction zones," or dusty planet-forming discs, which circle infant stars. See article. Note: This article is from 2004.

g ABODES - Titan's atmospheric winds, temperature and mixing have been revealed by new observations from the Cassini spacecraft. The thick atmosphere of Saturn's giant moon is rich in organic compounds, whose chemistry may be similar to that which occurred on Earth before the emergence of life. See article.

g LIFE - With humans apparently the only intelligent life in the solar system, we must broaden our search for extraterrestrial intelligence to other stars, perhaps even other galaxies. At such distances, though, we have little hope of detecting actual life with current equipment. Instead, we must ask: How likely is it that life in any form - carbon-based, silicon-based, water-based, ammonia-based, or something we cannot even dream of - exists? The word likely in the last sentence speaks of probabilities. See article.

g INTELLIGENCE - Studying the evolution of intelligence in the human line immediately recalls similar studies in our next-of-kin, our cousins, the apes. Without any doubt, they have some form of intelligence, and comparative studies have shed an important light on the understanding of our own intelligence. 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. Note: This article is from 1985.

g COSMICUS - Two teams of researchers are hoping their tiny devices will mean big leaps for future Mars-bound humans, allowing them to carry powerful computers and generate life support materials from the planet's atmosphere. See article.

g LEARNING - Here's something fun for the kids: An "Alien Life" word find. It's based on a Science for Kids article.

g IMAGINING - How did humanity come to believe that intelligent life might exist in other solar systems? And what have our fictional aliens looked like through the ages? 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 one 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.

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