Planet Earth Report –“Antarctica’s Ancient Rainforest to New Class of Living Robots”

 

Earth from the ISS

 

“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.

 

Meet the Xenobots, Virtual Creatures Brought to Life –Computer scientists and biologists have teamed up to make a new class of living robotics that challenge the boundary between digital and biological, writes Joshua Sokol for the New York Times.If the last few decades of progress in artificial intelligence and in molecular biology hooked up, their love child — a class of life unlike anything that has ever lived — might resemble the dark specks doing lazy laps around a petri dish in a laboratory at Tufts University.

Orangutans and other great apes under threat from covid-19 pandemic, reports New Scientist. Endangered great apes are further threatened by the new coronavirus, according to researchers who say there is a “difficult battle” ahead to protect the animals from possible infection. Gorillas, orangutans, chimpanzees and bonobos are known to be susceptible to human respiratory illnesses, sometimes becoming much more ill from them than people do.

Astronauts offer advice on keeping calm (and carrying on) amid coronavirus outbreak reports NBC MACH. Spaceflyers are experts on social isolation and quarantines. Several astronauts offered comforting words on Twitter this week as countries around the world asked citizens to stay at home and closed schools and businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

1,400-year-old mystery of strange ‘red sign’ in Japan’s sky solved, reports Space,com,. According to historical records, on Dec. 30, 620, a “red sign” shaped like “a pheasant tail” appeared in the sky. At the time, the sign was considered a bad omen. Modern scientists looking back at the report have wondered whether the spectacle may have been caused by an aurora or a comet, but neither of those explanations quite made sense.

The Woman Who Lives 200,000 Years in the Past, As we confront the reality of COVID-19, the idea of living self-sufficiently in the woods, far from crowds and grocery stores, doesn’t sound so bad. Lynx Vilden has been doing just that for decades, while teaching others how to live primitively, too, reports Katherine Rowland for Outside.

Antarctica Was a Lush Rainforest 90 Million Years Ago, Scientists Discover –An ancient sediment core revealed a shocking discovery: pollen and spores, indicating a long-lost rainforest that was shrouded in perpetual darkness for months at a time. The story of this ancient Antarctic rainforest is written in sediment buried 25 meters under the seafloor off Pine Island Glacier, according to a study published on Wednesday in Nature. The fossils preserved in an ultra-rare core represent the first glimpse of Cretaceous ecosystems at latitudes this far south, just 500 miles from the South Pole.

To Make the Perfect Mirror.. LIGO’s mirrors are made of 70 layers of glass. The mirrors are designed to perfectly reflect the wavelength of light used by LIGO’s laser, reports Natalie Wolchover for Quanta. Sometimes a mirror that reflects 99.9999% of light isn’t good enough.

Coronavirus Is a Labor Crisis, and a General Strike Might Be Next, reports Motherboard/Vice. Workers all over America are striking, walking off the job, protesting, and organizing “sick-outs” during the coronavirus pandemic. A general strike could be big, and it might already be starting.

Bad News Wrapped in Protein: Inside the Coronavirus Genome –The virus injects a tiny but remarkably complex strand of RNA into infected cells, writes Carl Zimmer and Jonathan Corum for the New York Times.In January, scientists deciphered a piece of very bad news: the genome of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. The sample came from a 41-year-old man who worked at the seafood market in Wuhan where the first cluster of cases appeared.