“Planet Earth Report” provides descriptive links to headline news by leading science journalists about the extraordinary discoveries, technology, people, and events changing our knowledge of Planet Earth and the future of the human species. Our caffeine-inspired curation team scours the world, doing your work for you –all in one place.
Scientists Need Help Looking for Aliens in Massive New Trove of SETI Data –The Breakthrough Listen project just released two petabytes of SETI data, reports Madeleine Gregory for Motherboard/Vice, and anyone from scientists to coders with experience in Python and a bit of gumption can look for signs of extraterrestrial life. Across the world, a team of scientists have their strongest telescopes pointed out into space, hoping to hear extraterrestrial life. Now, scientists have released 2 petabytes of radio data, asking for help in finding signs of aliens. One of the biggest challenges in astrobiology right now is how to think about things with non-human minds.\
How the “Pale Blue Dot” Image Came to Be –Voyager 1’s poignant photograph of the distant Earth as the spacecraft sped toward interstellar space happened just 30 years ago, writes Carolyn Porco for Scientific American. Thirty years ago, on February 14, 1990, the Voyager 1 spacecraft directed its cameras to take one last historic array of planetary images. Sitting high above the ecliptic plane, nine years and three months beyond its last planetary encounter with Saturn and four billion miles from the sun, farther than the orbit of Neptune, the spacecraft intercepted and executed a set of instructions to acquire 60 individual exposures of seven of the eight planets, the sun and the vast nothingness in between. This simple sequence of commands and these last images of the of tens of thousands taken by Voyager 1 and its sister craft, Voyager 2, in their journeys across the solar system, capped a groundbreaking era in the coming of age of our species.
Astronomers to sweep entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life –Project is collaboration between privately-funded firm and New Mexico observatory. The project, reports The Guardian, is a collaboration between the privately-funded Seti Institute and the Very Large Array observatory in New Mexico, one of the world’s most powerful radio observatories. Gaining real-time access to all the data gathered by VLA is considered a major coup for scientists hunting extraterrestrial lifeforms and an indication that the field has “gone mainstream”. Normal astronomy operations will continue at the VLA, which was featured in the 1997 film Contact, but under the new arrangement all data will be duplicated and fed through a dedicated supercomputer that will search for beeps, squawks or other signatures of distant technology.
Playing on Kansas City Radio: Russian Propaganda –Radio Sputnik, a propaganda arm of the Russian government, began broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during prime drive time writes Neil MacFarquhar for The New York Times. When commuters spin the radio dial as they drive through Kansas City, Mo., these days, between the strains of classic rock and country hits they can tune in to something unexpected: Russian agitprop. In January, Radio Sputnik, a propaganda arm of the Russian government, started broadcasting on three Kansas City-area radio stations during prime drive times, even sharing one frequency with a station rooted in the city’s historic jazz district.
Here Lies the Skull of Pliny the Elder, Maybe –The Roman admiral and scholar died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D. Might this really be his cranium? Pliny the Elder’s skull — or more accurately, his alleged skull — writes Franz Lidz for the New York Times, reposes in ghoulish splendor at the Museo Storico Nazionale Dell’Arte Sanitaria in Rome, a treasure trove of medical curiosities. The cranium has ruminated for decades in a display case, amid pathological and anatomical anomalies such as malformed fetuses and pickled liver stones. Scholars have long debated whether the relic once housed the brain of Pliny, the renowned admiral and author of a vast encyclopedia of Roman knowledge who died during the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D.
NASA Found Exotic Organic Molecules on Ancient Space Object ‘Arrokoth’–-The latest data from ancient “Arrokoth,” the most distant object ever visited by spacecraft, writes Maddie Stone for Motherboard/Vice, supports the idea that it’s covered in organic molecules called “tholins” and gives us a window into deep cosmic time. This week, three papers published in the journal Science report new findings on the ancient object that give us a unique window into deep cosmic time, including insights into how it formed and details on the exotic organic molecules that give it its red color.
Temperature in Antarctica soars to near 70 degrees, appearing to topple continental record set days earlier. A weather research station on Seymour Island in the Antarctic Peninsula registered a temperature of 69.3 degrees (20.75 Celsius) on Feb. 9, according to Márcio Rocha Francelino, a professor at the Federal University of Vicosa in Brazil. The nearly 70-degree temperature is significantly higher than the 65-degree reading taken Feb. 6 at the Esperanza Base along Antarctica’s Trinity Peninsula. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) is reviewing that reading to see whether it qualifies as the continent’s hottest temperature on record.
A Kayaker and a 134-Foot Waterfall. What Could Go Wrong? –The first — and maybe the last — descent of Salto del Maule. A national kayaking champion dreamed of being the first person to run a 134-foot waterfall in the mountains of Chile. The record for the tallest waterfall ever run in a kayak is held by Tyler Bradt for Palouse Falls, a 189-foot waterfall in Washington. Only a handful of kayakers have ever tried their luck at running anything over 100 feet. With Salto del Maule, Dane Jackson, a 26-year-old national kayaking champion from Tennessee, has now completed six waterfalls that are at least 100 feet.
Tiny 2-billion-year-old fossil blobs may be the oldest complex cells –Fossils of single cells have been found in 2-billion-year-old rocks in China. The microfossils may be the oldest examples of complex eukaryotic cells in the fossil record – in which case they may be our distant ancestors, writes Michael Marshall for New Scientist.
Grizzly Bear Death Rates Are Climbing –Trains, cars and poaching have all contributed to a soaring number of fatalities, prompting fears for the grizzlies’ future.