“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.
Superfast, Superpowerful Lasers Are About to Revolutionize Physics –They’ll serve as the hearts of “discovery factories” for planetary science, astrophysics, materials physics, fusion, and more, basedon plasmas,the fourth state of matter and the most ubiquitous form of (ordinary, not dark) matter in the universe; the phase space of plasmas to consider is enormous, reports Tammy Ma for Scientific American.
A Fleeting Moment in the Solar System –Earth has lost its mini-moon, writes Marina Koren for The Atlantic. For a brief time, Earth had two moons. The first, of course, was the one we’ve always had. The other was a fairly recent addition, about the size of a compact car— too tiny to tug on any oceans and invisible to the naked eye. In a chance encounter, gravitational forces had pulled the space rock away from an orbit around the sun and tossed it into one around us.
Coronavirus origins: genome analysis suggests two viruses may have combined-– While the number of scientific articles on this virus is increasing, there are still many grey areas as to its origins, reports reports Alexandre Hassanin for The Conversation. In which animal species did it occur? A bat, a pangolin or another wild species? Where does it come from? From a cave or a forest in the Chinese province of Hubei, or elsewhere? In December 2019, 27 of the first 41 people hospitalized (66%) passed through a market located in the heart of Wuhan city in Hubei province. But, according to a study conducted at Wuhan Hospital, the very first human case identified did not frequent this market. Instead, a molecular dating estimate based on the SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences indicates an origin in November. This raises questions about the link between this COVID-19 epidemic and wildlife.
Sudden Ancient Global Warming Event Traced to Magma Flood –A study has cemented the link between an intense global warming episode 56 million years ago and volcanism in the North Atlantic, with implications for modern climate change, writes Howard Lee for Quanta. During the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, an ancient warm period triggered by a sudden release of carbon dioxide, the Arctic resembled a subtropical swamp. Roughly 60 million years ago, circulation changes deep within our planet generated a hot current of rock — the Iceland plume — causing it to rise from the heart of Earth’s mantle. When the mantle rock pierced the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean, lava spurted across Scotland, Ireland and Greenland, scabbing into spectacular columned landscapes like the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland and Scotland’s Fingal’s Cave.
Mind Reading and Mind Control Technologies Are Coming –We need to figure out the ethical implications before they arrive, reports R. Douglas Fields for Scientific American. The ability to interrogate and manipulate electrical activity in the human brain promises to do for the brain what biochemistry did for the body.
There’s a conspiracy theory that the CIA invented the term ‘conspiracy theory’ – here’s why. –it may come as no surprise that there is even a conspiracy theory about the origins of the label, reports historian Michael Butter for The Conversation. This conspiracy theory claims that the CIA invented the term in 1967 to disqualify those who questioned the official version of John F Kennedy’s assassination and doubted that his killer, Lee Harvey Oswald, had acted alone. There are even two versions of this conspiracy theory. The more extreme version claims that the CIA literally invented the term in the sense that the words “conspiracy” and “theory” had never been used before in combination. A more moderate version acknowledges that the term existed before, but claims that the CIA intentionally created its negative connotations and so turned the label into a tool of political propaganda.
A Secret Tunnel Found in Mexico May Finally Solve the Mysteries of Teotihuacán –-The chance discovery beneath a nearly 2,000-year-old pyramid leads to the heart of a lost civilization, reports Matthew Shaer for The Smithsonian.In the fall of 2003, a heavy rainstorm swept through the ruins of Teotihuacán, the pyramid-studded, pre-Aztec metropolis 30 miles northeast of present-day Mexico City. Dig sites sloshed over with water; a torrent of mud and debris coursed past rows of souvenir stands at the main entrance. The grounds of the city’s central courtyard buckled and broke. One morning, Sergio Gómez, an archaeologist with Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, arrived at work to find a nearly three-foot-wide sinkhole had opened at the foot of a large pyramid known as the Temple of the Plumed Serpent, in Teotihuacán’s southeast quadrant.
Former Astronauts Share Ways To Cope With Social Distancing & Isolation--If anyone knows about how to deal with being far from family and friends, and working in close quarters, it’s astronauts, reports Forbes. From the earliest space missions with capsules barely bigger than astronauts and their equipment to record-setting durations aboard the International Space Station (ISS), astronauts have pushed the physical, psychological, and emotional limits of spending time in space and conducting research there.
Scientists Solve Mystery Behind Deformation of Chicago-Size Area in Yellowstone Park –The 3,472 square mile park known for its wildlife and geothermal features is located in the western United States. However, the geological activity in one area has puzzled experts for years. An area the size of Chicago in Yellowstone National Park has been “breathing” in and out for decades due to magma intrusion, that’s according to a recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. A team of scientists from the US Geological Survey has for years tried to solve the mystery behind the deformation of the Norris Geyser Basin, the hottest one in the park.