Planet Earth Report –“Giant Viruses Shake Tree of Life to Pandemic Is Turning Nature Upside Down”

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.

 

Giant Viruses Shake Tree of Life –“Might Be One Reason Life Exists On Earth” –When Felix d’Herelle, a seminal figure in the history of molecular biology, discovered the first bacteriophage in French soldiers in 1917, writes Carl Zimmer in A Planet of Viruses, “many scientists refused to believe that such a thing actually existed. A century later, it’s clear that Herelle had found the most abundant life form on Earth.

Giant Viruses Shake the Tree of Life --"Might Be One Reason Life Exists On Earth" (Weekend Feature)

Coronavirus lockdowns have sent pollution plummeting. –Environmentalists worry about what comes next. The decline in carbon emissions that has resulted from coronavirus lockdowns could easily be reversed by efforts to quickly ramp up economies.

A Rapid End Strikes the Dinosaur Extinction Debate –The paleontologist Pincelli Hull has nailed down the timing and speed of the extinction that killed off the dinosaurs — details that carry ominous warnings for today. The last time the world was ending, two cataclysms aligned. On one side of the planet, a wayward asteroid dropped like a cartoon anvil, punching through the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula and penetrating deep into Earth’s crust. Around the same time — 66 million years ago — a million cubic kilometers of lava were in the process of bubbling up to the surface, releasing climate-altering carbon dioxide and sulfur into the atmosphere and forming what would become the Deccan Traps of modern-day India.

Fifty Years Ago, The Crew of the Damaged Apollo 13 Came Home –Using the lunar module as a lifeboat and employing techniques never before considered, the astronauts’ ordeal ended triumphantly. The whole world watched as the exhausted, underfed and dehydrated Apollo 13 astronauts fought for their lives after an on-board explosion rendered their mission to the Moon unattainable.

 

Apollo 13 Crew

 

Scientists describe ‘chaos’ of being stuck in the field amid coronavirus lockdowns –Greta Dargie was deep in a forest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo when her university sent a speed boat to get her out.

Could Giants Lurk Beneath Europa’s Icy Shell? –For some of Earth’s deep-sea and polar species, gigantism proved a useful evolutionary strategy—the same may be true if life exists on Jupiter’s moon.Nightmarish creatures such as kraken-esque colossal squid, chitinous giant isopods, and jellyfish a meter in diameter have flourished under these harsh conditions. One trick that has helped them thrive: an adaptation known as gigantism, common in the deep seas and frigid waters of the poles.

New Coronavirus Drug Shows Promise in Animal Tests–Slated for human trials, EIDD-2801 could become the first pill for COVID-19

Billion-Year-Old Algae and Newer Genes Hint at Land Plants’ Origin-A recently unearthed fossil and new genomic discoveries are filling important gaps in scientists’ understanding of how primitive green algae eventually evolved into land vegetation.

Recently Discovered Drawings for the Statue of Liberty Hint at a Last-Minute Change –Sketches from the workshop of French engineer Gustave Eiffel suggest a different plan for Lady Liberty’s upraised arm.

NASA’s ‘Worm’ Logo Will Return to Space –The new old logo, dropped in the 1990s in favor of a more vintage brand, will adorn a SpaceX rocket that is to carry astronauts to the space station in May.

Archaeologists Discover Paintings of Goddess in 3,000-Year-Old Mummy’s Coffin –Researchers lifted the ancient Egyptian mummy out of her coffin for the first time in 100 years and, to their surprise, uncovered the ancient artworks.

Chernobyl radiation levels spike dramatically as forest fires burn in exclusion zone-Fires in Ukraine are more dangerous around Chernobyl, as the trees and plant life are still irradiated from the 1986 nuclear disaster.

The Pandemic Is Turning the Natural World Upside Down –Widespread social-distancing measures have produced some jarring effects across land, air, and sea.

Will Coronavirus Freeze the Search for Dark Matter? –An experiment under 4,600 feet of Italian rock wasn’t immune from the pandemic’s interruption.

The Search for the Perfect Mirror –Your bedroom mirror does the trick in the morning, but for scientists studying gravitational waves, even the tiniest of imperfections can make a huge difference.

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