“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.
MIT: Freeman Dyson in his own words –Freeman Dyson died today, at age 96. He was one of the foremost physicists of his generation, and also wrote widely on the relationships between science, technology, and the world. He wrote occasionally for the New Yorker in the 1970s and 1980s, and, for many years, was a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. He also wrote a handful of articles for MIT Technology Review, including a two-part series about his role in World War II including On the space race, from a letter to his family in England; On technology and ideology, from Disturbing the Universe, the New Yorker; On the spiritual value of science, from “The Scientist as Rebel,” New York Review of Books; On evolution and free will, from Origins of Life.
Bill Gates: Coronavirus may be ‘once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about, ’reports CNBC. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said the coronavirus is starting to behave like the “once-in-a-century pathogen we’ve been worried about.” Gates pointed out COVID-19′s current predicted fatality rate is higher than that of the 1957 influenza pandemic, which killed an estimated 66,000 people in the U.S. “I hope it’s not that bad, but we should assume it will be until we know otherwise.”
This Parasite Doesn’t Need Oxygen to Survive –But that’s not the weirdest thing about this jellyfish cousin that turns up in the muscles of salmon, writes Veronique Greenwood for The New York Times. Researchers in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report that a tiny parasitic cousin of jellyfish, which under a microscope looks something like the head of an archetypal bigheaded and dark-eyed alien, is bucking the trend: It has no mitochondria, suggesting it does not use oxygen for respiration. It appears to get its energy from some other source that remains mysterious.
“Alien Origin” — “An enduring mystery regarding the origin of life,” said NASA scientists at the Goddard Space Flight Center in June, 2019 about the inorganic transition to life, abiogenesis, “is how biology could have arisen from non-biological chemical processes.” Now, scientists have reported the discovery of “the first protein from an extraterrestrial source,” marking the only time that this important component of life has ever been found in a meteorite, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice. Tiny traces of a novel protein called “hemolithin” were detected inside the meteorite Acfer 086, according to a study recently published on the preprint archive arXiv and spotted by Futurism. The find could have big implications for understanding the origins of life on Earth or elsewhere in the universe, though it must be corroborated by other researchers first.
Race to unravel mystery of 1908 Tunguska catastrophe – the world’s biggest explosion. Russian scientists hopeful of finding traces of cosmic matter left after the explosion, reports the Siberian Times. Over the past century, speculation for what could have been behind the incident has ranged from a micro-black hole invader to the farside suggestion that Nikola Tesla was somehow to blame for the event.Scientists from four major institutes – Novosibirsk Institute of Nuclear Physics, Novosibirsk Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, Tunguska Nature Reserve and Krasnoyarsk Biophysics Institute – are actively studying traces of the last century’s catastrophe hoping to understand an event that literally shook the world. ‘The mystery of the Tunguska Catastrophe worries both the scientists and the public’, said Dr Arthur Meidus, deputy director to Tunguska Nature Reserve.
Wormholes Reveal a Way to Manipulate Black Hole Information in the Lab –A proposal for building wormhole-connected black holes offers a way to probe the paradoxes of quantum information. A group led by Sepehr Nezami of the California Institute of Technology has suggested how to actually perform this extraordinary experiment — and they are beginning to work with collaborators to put the idea to the test, writes Phillip Ball for Quanta.com. If the predictions are borne out, the work may offer clues about where to look for the most elusive theory in physics: one that unites quantum mechanics with the theory of general relativity that describes gravity. And, for good measure, it would support the idea that space-time is not the fundamental backdrop against which the universe plays out but is itself woven from the interconnections between particles described by quantum entanglement.
This ‘Blood-Red’ Snow Is Taking Over Parts of Antarctica –After a month of record-breaking temperatures, a kind of snow algae that turns ruby-hued in warm temperatures thrives, writes Lily Katzman for Smithsonian. With unprecedented temperatures, algae that normally thrive in freezing water and lie dormant across the continent’s snow and ice are now in full bloom and cover the Antarctic Peninsula with blood-red, flower-like spores.