“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.
How to know if artificial intelligence is about to destroy civilization –These canaries in the coal mines of AI would be signs that superintelligent robot overlords are approaching, reports Oren Etzioni for MIT Technology Review. Could we wake up one morning dumbstruck that a super-powerful AI has emerged, with disastrous consequences? Books like Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom and Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark, as well as more recent articles, argue that malevolent superintelligence is an existential risk for humanity.
NASA Reveals Shocking Ice Cap Melt in Antarctica After Record Heat –New images from Antarctica’s record heat wave show the rapid greening of an island’s ice cap, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice. Two weeks ago, the temperature in Antarctica topped 18.3°C (64.9°F), making it the hottest weather on record for the icy southern continent. NASA has now released dramatic new images of the extensive ice melt caused by the recent heatwave, which ran from February 5 to 13.
“Haunting” –‘Last & First Men’ -A Story of Humanity from Present Across Two-Billion Years. Before his death in 2018, Icelandic director and composer Johann Jóhannsson –director of Arrival and The Theory of Everything–adapted Last and First Men, a “future history” by British science-fiction author Olaf Stapledon –a “film that straddles the border of fiction and documentary. It is a meditation on memory and failed utopia.” The story –a channeled text from the last human species–describes the history of humanity from the present across two billion years and eighteen distinct human species, of which our own is the first.
America’s Biggest New Age Expo Is Just Trying to Keep Things from Getting Weird –The Conscious Life Expo celebrates alternative healing, crystals, psychics, mediums, angels and aliens. Its founder says he’s been trying to drive out the conspiracy theorist element that sometimes accompanies those things. Is it working? Conscious Life, unlike pretty much every other alternative health expo, has a significant aliens-and-extraterrestrials lecture track.
Here’s Why Gallup Polled Americans About UFOs for the First Time in Decades. If they’re asking about aliens, they must be real. In 2019, the public opinion polling company Gallup decided to directly ask the American public about their experiences with UFOs again, for one simple reason: semi-credible evidence of their existence was back in the news, writes Anna Merlan for Motherboard/Vice. “Between the ‘Storm Area 51’ phenomenon and the New York Times articles about the Navy changing its protocols for pilots reporting unidentified things in the air—there was news of pilots seeing bizarre planes traveling at at hyperspeed—maybe we’re at the point where some of this is getting more credence,” Lydia Saad director of U.S. Social Research for Gallup told VICE, recalling what she was thinking at the time.
Earth’s Deepest River Conceals an Evolutionary Mystery –The lower Congo River’s depths have made it a natural lab for convergent evolution, yielding fish with unexpected features, writes Asher Elbein for The New York Times. The Congo River runs for 2,500 lazy miles through Africa’s equatorial basin, coiling like a snake through the jungles of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then, 186 miles from the ocean, it drops into a dangerous series of gorges, sinking 12 feet every mile. The swirling waters of the Kongo Central province, bordering the Republic of Congo and Angola, contain 30 percent of the river’s fish diversity and have long attracted ichthyologists.
We’re not prepared for the end of Moore’s Law –It has fueled prosperity of the last 50 years. But the end is now in sight, writes David Rotman for MIT Technology Review. Gordon Moore’s 1965 forecast that the number of components on an integrated circuit would double every year until it reached an astonishing 65,000 by 1975 is the greatest technological prediction of the last half-century. When it proved correct in 1975, he revised what has become known as Moore’s Law to a doubling of transistors on a chip every two years. Since then, his prediction has defined the trajectory of technology and, in many ways, of progress itself.
‘Hidden Figures’ Mathematician Katherine Johnson Defined Her Century and Left a Legacy for Ours. Johnson, the inspiration for the film ‘Hidden Figures,’ graduated university at 18 and calculated orbital flight trajectories for the Mercury and Apollo programs. Johnson, a mathematician and cultural icon who helped land the first humans on the Moon. She died on Monday at age 101, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice.
The Sun is Mysteriously Causing Whales to Strand and Die. New research into gray whale strandings gives us a clue as to how these animals navigate and suggests that solar storms may play a role in their deaths, writes Maddie Bender for Motherboard/Vice. Solar storms that disrupt the Earth’s magnetic field may be scrambling gray whales’ internal GPS and causing them to strand on shorelines, a new study found. Though rare, a stranding can be deadly for whales, since they can collapse under their own weight without water underneath them or drown at high tide.
A Forgotten Forest of Ancient Trees Was Devastated by Bushfires –Nightcap oaks have lived through massive geologic upheavals. But they might not survive humanity’s influence on Earth.