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E.T. could be our distant space cousin

Question: What's the evidence for extraterrestrials being not so alien after all but our space cousins?Answer: Life on one planet somehow seeding life on another, possibly in a remote star system, is an old science fiction theme that got a scientific boost recently, says Case Western Reserve University's Lawrence Krauss in "Beyond Star Trek: Physics from Alien Invasions to the End of Time."

Nobel prize-winner Francis Crick once proposed the theory, not entirely facetiously. The recent discovery of what might be fossil evidence of life on Mars, along with the possibility of interplanetary transport via cataclysmic interplanetary collisions, raises questions about extraterrestrial life being related to our own.

Further support for the idea comes from spectroscopic analysis of light from the Hale-Bopp comet, indicating the presence of over 100 types of complex organic molecules, including the amino acid glycine, life's building blocks.

And for water? It is now known the Earth is bombarded by dozens of small, water-bearing comets every minute, and the example of Shoemaker-Levy hitting Jupiter showed some of the comet's water made it down into the planet's atmosphere.

Perhaps in a classic reversal of the typical scenario wherein we colonize the solar system, the solar system colonized us.

Question: A woman with seven boys tells the doc she wants a girl and asks what are her chances with one more child. He says the law of averages are with you 100 to 1. Wise doc or a crock?

Answer: The woman believed him and had another child, a boy, of course, then penned a letter of beleaguered complaint to an advice columnist. What went wrong?

It is a widespread misconception that random events affect one another, as if five flips of a (fair) coin coming up heads means tails is somehow due on the next flip.

But luck has no memory. How could the coin remember its previous outcomes? It can't. Each new flip is 50-50 regardless of any previous string. It's the same for the couple's sex-determination genes, though these may not be exactly 50-50 but predisposed slightly toward having one sex more than the other. In that case, Boy No. 8 was more likely than Girl No. 1, in spite of the streak of Boys 1-7.

Question: Now for a one-minute power primer on getting on top and staying there. Got your notepad ready?

Answer: Talk fluently and look people squarely in the eye, advises James Vander Zanden in "The Social Experience." Stares make people uncomfortable, so don't surrender. The staredown continues until one of you succumbs by averting the eyes. The matter thus settled, the yielder usually avoids further eye contact although the winner may occasionally glance at the loser as if to verify the victory.

Exude certainty and authority as do CEOs, powerful politicians, great generals: Move slowly, smoothly, purposefully, with strategic pauses along the way.

Gesture deliberately and appear charismatic. Keep posture erect (a modified West-Point cadet look will do), head steady while speaking, speech rate even and measured, sentences complete. By all means, interrupt others' talk: Movers and shakers steer conversations. Spread out arms and legs, commandeering space; also spread out emotionally: Smile, frown, joke, exclaim! Take a lesson from the wolves: Subordinates lower their heads and tails, flatten their ears, roll over on their backs. Avoid these measures at all costs.

That ought to do it. See you at the top.

Send STRANGE questions to brothers Bill and Rich at strangetrue@compuserve.com