“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.
Ancient Antarctic ice melt increased sea levels by 3+ meters — and it could happen again –Rising ocean temperatures drove the melting of Antarctic ice sheets and caused extreme sea level rise more than 100,000 years ago, a new international study led by UNSW Sydney shows — and the scientists say we’re headed in that direction again.
Ghost DNA Hints at Africa’s Missing Ancient Humans –Genes in some living West Africans shed light on human genetic diversity, which has been difficult to find in the continent’s fossil record. Scientists reported on Wednesday that they had discovered evidence of an extinct branch of humans whose ancestors split from our own a million years ago. The evidence of these humans was not a fossil writes Carl Zimmer for the New York Times. Instead, the researchers found pieces of their DNA in the genomes of living people from West Africa.
Mathematicians Are Studying Planet-Sized Quantum Computers With God-Like Powers –New research has exploded the space of problems that quantum computers can efficiently verify, simultaneously knocking down milestone problems in quantum physics and math. If today’s computers had dreams and ambitions, writes Mordechai Rorvig for Motherboard/Vice, there would be some problems that they wouldn’t even dream about solving. Some problems would take far too much time or memory, running on for nearly forever. But in an exciting new result, a team of computer scientists have shown how in theory quantum computers should be able to rapidly verify that a practically infinite problem was solved. Quantum computers were not supposed to be able to do this. One prominent computer scientist and professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Scott Aaronson, called the discovery one of the biggest theoretical “surprises so far in this century”.
Could These Crystals Help Us Travel Through Time? –A mysterious phase of matter has unlocked crucial clues about our universe right now. But what about the past and future, asks Stav Dimitropoulos for Popular Mechanics. a time crystal breaks the symmetry of time: their atoms love being in different points in space at different points in time, shifting directions as if a pulsating force flipped them. Even more so, time crystals can move without absorbing energy because they’re created from trapped ions—blends of electric or magnetic fields that can capture charged particles, usually in a system isolated from an external environment, with the capacity to tirelessly gyrate, even at their lowest energy-point (their so-called ground state).
“Spacetime Magic” –‘Will Lead to God-Like Civilizations’ –God-like beings will exist in the future, and they may be able to affect their past — our present — by means of spacetime engineering. Probably other civilizations out there, perhaps millions to billions of years older than Earth’s, have already attained God-like powers, says Giulio Prisco. a technology expert, futurist and author of Tales of the Turing Church, who believes that the ‘manifest destiny’ of our species is colonizing the universe and developing spacetime engineering and scientific “future magic” much beyond our current understanding and imagination.
Human language most likely evolved gradually –One of the most controversial hypotheses for the origin of human language faculty is the evolutionary conjecture that language arose instantaneously in humans through a single gene mutation. Two recent publications by researchers at the University of Barcelona (UB), led by Cedric Boeckx, ICREA Research professor from the Section of General Linguistics and member of the Institute of Complex Systems of the UB (UBICS), question this hypothesis, advocated among others by linguist Noam Chomsky, and suggest that it is more likely that language evolved gradually.
This 1,600-Year-Old Goblet Shows that the Romans Were Nanotechnology Pioneers –Researchers have finally found out why the jade-green cup appears red when lit from behind. The Romans may have first come across the colorful potential of nanoparticles by accident, but they seem to have perfected it, writes Zeeya Merali for Smithsonian.. The glass chalice, known as the Lycurgus Cup because it bears a scene involving King Lycurgus of Thrace, appears jade green when lit from the front but blood-red when lit from behind—a property that puzzled scientists for decades after the museum acquired the cup in the 1950s. The mystery wasn’t solved until 1990, when researchers in England scrutinized broken fragments under a microscope and discovered that the Roman artisans were nanotechnology pioneers.
The Gory Origins of Valentine’s Day –The holiday began as a feast to celebrate the decapitation of a third-century Christian martyr, or perhaps two. So how did it become all about love, asks Lisa Bitel for The Smithsonian. Ancient sources reveal that there were several St. Valentines who died on Feb. 14. Two of them were executed during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius Gothicus in 269-270 A.D., at a time when persecution of Christians was common. How do we know this? Because, an order of Belgian monks spent three centuries collecting evidence for the lives of saints from manuscript archives around the known world.