“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.
Nuclear Tests Marked Life on Earth With a Radioactive Spike –Even as it disappears, the “bomb spike” is revealing the ways humans have reshaped the planet, writes Carl Zimmer for The Atlantic. “Within seconds, the fireball had lofted 10 million tons of pulverized coral reef, coated in radioactive material. And soon some of that deadly debris began dropping to Earth. If Clark and his crew had lingered outside, they would have died in the fallout.”.That wasn’t supposed to happen, Zimmer writes. The Castle Bravo team had been sure that the radiation from the blast would go up to the stratosphere or get carried away by the winds safely out to sea. In fact, the chain reactions unleashed during the explosion produced a blast almost three times as big as predicted—1,000 times bigger than the Hiroshima bomb.
Russia Is Building an Autonomous Arctic Base to Develop Futuristic Tech. The carbon-zero facility, called “Snowflake,” is meant to demonstrate autonomous renewable power and serve as a base for advanced research when initial construction is finished in 2022, writes Becky Ferreira for Motherboard Vice. Russia plans to build a carbon-zero outpost in the Arctic within the next few years in order to demonstrate autonomous renewable power and help remote polar communities adapt to rapid climate change. The modular station will be constructed in the Land of Hope, a region that lies at the northern edge of the Ural mountain range and the base of Yamal Peninsula.
A Tiny, Lab-Size Wormhole Could Shatter Our Sense of Reality –How scientists plan to set up two black holes and a wormhole on an ordinary tabletop, reports reports Phillip Ball and Quanta have predicted. A group led by Sepehr Nezami of the California Institute of Technology has suggested how to actually perform this extraordinary experiment—and it is beginning to work with collaborators to put the idea to the test. If the predictions are borne out, they report, 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. 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 among particles described by quantum entanglement.
Some parts of California had no rain in February — and are already seeing wildfires. Huge swaths of California experienced its driest February on record, writes Denise Chow for NBC MACH, with some northern areas of the state recording zero precipitation for the entire month, according to the National Weather Service. “California has a fairly restricted rainy season in the winter — between December and March — so we’re highly dependent on what falls during these few core rainy months,” said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. “This year, it literally could not have been any drier.”
Mysterious ‘Bubbles of Nothing’ That Eat Spacetime. A spontaneous hole in the fabric of reality could theoretically end the universe, but don’t worry: physicists are studying the idea for what it can teach us about the cosmos, writes Carly Minsky for Motherboard/Vice. Luckily for us, physicists studying the phenomenon, called “spacetime decay”, believe this is very unlikely. The possibility is interesting enough to explore in mind-boggling detail, covering “bubbles of nothing” in spacetime, hidden extra dimensions, and a hypothetical observer hitching a ride on the outer surface of our universe. The idea that in specific scenarios the universe would be entirely destroyed by an expanding bubble of nothing has been around since 1982, when theoretical physicist Edward Witten wrote: “A hole spontaneously forms in space and rapidly expands to infinity, pushing to infinity anything it may meet.”
Banjo Is Turning Utah Into a Surveillance Panopticon –Banjo is applying artificial intelligence to government-owned surveillance and traffic cameras across the entire state of Utah to tell police about “anomalies,” reports Motherboard Vice. The state of Utah has given an artificial intelligence company real-time access to state traffic cameras, CCTV and “public safety” cameras, 911 emergency systems, location data for state-owned vehicles, and other sensitive data. The company says that it’s combining this data with information collected from social media, satellites, and other apps, and claims its algorithms “detect anomalies” in the real world.
‘Gardens and graveyards’ of coral discovered in hidden canyons off Australia’s coast –– Scientists are interested in these submarine crannies because they sit on the front lines of oceanic climate change. Stunning ‘gardens’ of deep-sea corals have been discovered in the Bremer Canyon Marine Park by Australian and international scientists during an oceanographic expedition aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute’s R/V Falkor. The deeper waters in the three oceans that surround Australia, including the world’s largest barrier reef and submarine canyons, are largely unexplored. The expedition explored the Bremer, Leeuwin and Perth canyons, all of which have extensive fossil coral deposits, with the Leeuwin especially notable for a massive pedestal-like coral graveyard. “This has global implications given these waters originate from around Antarctica which feed all of the major oceans and regulate our climate system” said Professor Malcolm McCulloch from UWA.
The Great Barrier Reef Is Heading for a Mass Bleaching of Unprecedented Scale –Forecasts for the largest living structure on Earth have become “devastating,” scientists say, and the coral carnage will be even more widespread than the last mass bleaching in 2016-2017, writes Maddie Stone for Motherboard/Vice. Between 2016 and 2017, half of all corals on the Great Barrier Reef died due to stress and starvation caused by back-to-back heat waves that were amplified by climate change. Only the southern third of the reef was spared significant losses during the disaster, which permanently degraded the ecosystem’s northern reaches.