“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.
Gaia Will Soon Belong to the Cyborgs– Cyborgs may be the start of a process that leads toward an intelligent universe, writes James Lovelock for Nautil.us. Our reign as sole understanders of the cosmos is rapidly coming to an end. The revolution that has just begun may be understood as a continuation of the process whereby the Earth nurtures the beings that will lead the cosmos to self-knowledge. What is revolutionary about this moment is that the understanders of the future will not be humans but cyborgs that will have designed and built themselves from the artificial intelligence systems we have already constructed who will soon become thousands then millions of times more intelligent than us.
The fifth force: Is there another fundamental force of nature? Scientists in Hungary claim to have found a new particle that reveals a fifth force of nature.In recent years, a group of Hungarian researchers have made headlines with a bold claim. They say they’ve discovered a new particle — dubbed X17 — that requires the existence of a fifth force of nature, writes Eric Betz for Astronomy.com. The researchers weren’t looking for the new particle, though. Instead, it popped up as an anomaly in their detector back in 2015 while they were searching for signs of dark matter. The oddity didn’t draw much attention at first. But eventually, a group of prominent particle physicists working at the University of California, Irvine, took a closer look and suggested that the Hungarians had stumbled onto a new type of particle — one that implies an entirely new force of nature.
An Open Letter to Telescope Protesters in Hawaii. Why astronomy on Mauna Kea is not a desecration but a duty, writes Dana Mackenziefor Nautil.us. On July 15, 2019, after a court decision had cleared the way for astronomers to build a new mega-telescope, called the Thirty Meter Telescope, on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, a large group of protesters said, “No.” Pitching their camp directly on the access road to the top of Mauna Kea, the protesters, who called themselves kia’i mauna (protectors of the mountain), pledged to stop any construction vehicles from passing. The kia’i argue that the mountain is sacred to the native Hawaiian people, and that the construction of the TMT would desecrate it.
Humans Have Been Taking Out Insurance Policies for at Least 30,000 Years–A study of beads made from ostrich eggshells suggests the humans of the Kalahari Desert region formed social networks to help each other, writes Megan Gannon for Smithsonian.com,”It’s a really good adaptation to a desert environment like the Kalahari, which has huge spatial and temporal variability in resource distribution,” says Brian Stewart, an archaeologist at the University of Michigan. “It can be very rainy in one season and in the next absolutely dry, or it can be very rainy in your area and then 10 kilometers away, it’s just nothing.” (Image courtesy of Brian A. Stewart, Yuchao Zhao, and the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropological Archaeology/John Klausmeyer)
The Strange Influence the Sun Has on Whales. A solar storm can throw whales off-course, suggesting that the large animals might have an internal compass, writes Ed Yong for The Atlantic. The first clear evidence that some animals have a magnetic sense came from a simple-enough experiment—put an animal in a box, change the magnetic fields around it, and see where it heads. German scientists first tried this in the 1960s, with captive robins.
This Company Will Point Satellites at Earth and Use them to Look for UFOs. Hypergiant Industries has clients like NASA, Shell, and Booz Allen. It says it can use machine learning from satellite imagery to detect anomalies, writes Sarah Scoles for Vice.com. VY Canis Majoris is a hypergiant star 270,000 times as bright as the Sun, and if you plunked it down in the middle of our solar system, it would burn Saturn..And perhaps it is no surprise that there’s a tech startup humbly eponymizing it: Hypergiant Industries, a company that aims, its website explains, to be “the guiding light that solves humanity’s most challenging problems.”
The Man Making Rwanda Into a Hub for Physics. As the founding director of a new institute for fundamental research in Rwanda, the physicist Omololu Akin-Ojo hopes to stem the brain drain of Africa’s brightest minds, writes for Quanta.
Experts still don’t know why so few cases of the new coronavirus have been reported in Africa, despite China – where the virus originated – being the continent’s top trading partner and the continent having a population of 1.3 billion people, writes Adam Vaughan for New Scientist.. Although the official number of cases in Egypt spiked from two to 59 over the weekend, including 33 people who were on a Nile cruise, across Africa the number of cases has stayed low. As of Tuesday morning there were just 95 official cases on the continent, though two countries – Togo and Cameroon – reported their first cases over the weekend. The spread in Africa is of concern because of the fragility of some countries’ healthcare systems, and the continent already faces big public health issues, particularly malaria, TB and HIV.
Coronavirus is hard on older people — and scientists aren’t sure why. Understanding the age question could help researchers figure out how to treat the illness, particularly in older populations, writes Denise Chow for NBC MACH. Older adults appear to be more severely at risk from the new coronavirus, while young children seem to be largely spared — and understanding why could be crucial to treating people with the illness it causes, according to scientists.
Why Deaths from Coronavirus Are So High in Italy. The nation now has the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 outside of mainland China, writes Rachael Rettner for LiveScience. Deaths from the new coronavirus in Italy have soared in recent days, with the country reporting 463 total fatalities from the virus, out of 9,172 confirmed cases, as of Monday (March 9). But why are deaths in the country so high?
The Coronavirus Will Shine a Bright Light On Crappy US Broadband, Much like the US healthcare system, US telecom infrastructure isn’t ready for what’s coming, writes Karl Bode for Vice Science. In the weeks and months to come, a growing number of US citizens are going to be forced to work from home in a bid to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. In the process they’re going to run face-first into a US broadband market that has consistently failed to provide quality, affordable broadband to those who need it most.