“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.
A.I. Versus the Coronavirus –A new consortium of top scientists will be able to use some of the world’s most advanced supercomputers to look for solutions, reports William J. Broad for the New York Times. Thomas M. Siebel, founder and chief executive of C3.ai, an artificial intelligence company in Redwood City, Calif., said the public-private consortium would spend $367 million in its initial five years, aiming its first awards at finding ways to slow the new coronavirus that is sweeping the globe.
The Eyes of Alien Life –Remembering Freeman Dyson. Freeman Dyson died in February, at the age of 96. This extraordinary British-American physicist, who spent the greater part of his career at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, took pleasure in disrupting the science establishment with unconventional ideas, reports SETI.org. He was able to get attention for concepts that many would dismiss as silly or wrong, simply on the basis of his formidable intellect and untethered imagination. One of Dyson’s contributions to the search for life in the cosmos (one of his favorite topics) was proposed in 1960 and is known as a Dyson sphere – a swarm of solar-paneled satellites that could provide enormous quantities of energy to a society advanced enough to build it.
Space Force Says Its New “Space Fence” Will Protect Us In Space— We haven’t heard a lot of news from the Space Force since it was founded, but the latest news shows something the military branch developed called the ‘Space Fence’ is now operational, reports Inverse.
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, reports Howard Lee for Quanta. In this ancient warming event, known as the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum, or PETM, land suffered intense downpours, while ocean acidification and heat drove many marine species extinct. Many land animals went extinct as well and were replaced by dwarf species. The Arctic had alligators, giant tortoises, and vegetation typical of Florida today, and sea levels were around 300 feet higher than now.
The hunt for patient zero: Where did the coronavirus outbreak start? –Growing evidence suggests the covid-19 outbreak may not have started at Wuhan’s Huanan Seafood Market in December after all. Finding its origins may help us stop it happening again, reports Donna Lu for New Scientist. As the world fights to tackle the covid-19 pandemic, a mystery remains: how and when did the virus cross over into humans? Doubt has been cast on the idea that it happened in the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, China, in December, and now researchers are trying to identify the real source of the infection. The hope is that this knowledge could help prevent future pandemics of other new coronaviruses.
Ten Tips from Scientists Who Have Spent Months in Isolation –Find a hobby, for starters, and don’t forget the mission, say scientists who have worked at remote research stations.he world is locked down, reports Emily Matchar for The Smithsonian. Carmen Possnig, an Austrian physician, spent a year at Concordia Research Station in Antarctica, which is used by the European Space Agency to simulate life in outer space. For the nine months of polar winter, she and 12 colleagues lived together on the Antarctic Plateau, conducting research into the effects of isolation.
Hackers Could Shut Down Satellites—or Turn Them into Weapons. The use of off-the-shelf components means bad actors can easily look for vulnerabilities, writes William Akoto for The Conversation. The race to put satellites in space is on, with Amazon, U.K.-based OneWeb and other companies chomping at the bit to place thousands of satellites in orbit in the coming months. These new satellites have the potential to revolutionize many aspects of everyday life—from bringing internet access to remote corners of the globe to monitoring the environment and improving global navigation systems. Amid all the fanfare, a critical danger has flown under the radar: the lack of cybersecurity standards and regulations for commercial satellites, in the U.S. and internationally.
Why Earth, Surprisingly, Is The Densest Object In Our Solar System. You might think, based on the fact that gravitation is a runaway process that just builds upon itself to a greater and greater degree, that the most massive objects of all things like Jupiter or even the Sun would be densest, but they’re less than a quarter the density of Earth, writes Ethan Siegel for Forbes. You might go a different route, and think that the worlds that are made out of the greatest proportion of the heaviest elements would be the densest, too. If that were the case, however, Mercury would be the densest world, and it isn’t. Instead, of all the large objects that are known in the Solar System, Earth is the densest of all. Here’s the surprising science of why.
D.I.Y. Coronavirus Solutions Are Gaining Steam –From Ireland to Seattle, makers and engineers are creating open-source versions of much-needed medical equipment, reports Alexandra E. Petri for the New York Times. There are moments when Gui Cavalcanti feels like he woke up in a dystopian universe — a guy with no background in medical or disaster response, suddenly leading an international effort on Facebook to design medical equipment to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, the gravest public-health threat of our time.
Extreme isolation: world’s last virus-free corners hold tight, reports Bernadette Carreon for Yahoo News. A coronavirus-free tropical island nestled in the northern Pacific may seem the perfect place to ride out a pandemic — but residents on Palau say life right now is far from idyllic. The microstate of 18,000 people is among a dwindling number of places on Earth that still report zero cases of COVID-19 as figures mount daily elsewhere. The disparate group also includes Samoa, Turkmenistan, North Korea and bases on the frozen continent of Antarctica.
How the Horrific 1918 Flu Spread Across America –The toll of history’s worst epidemic surpasses all the military deaths in World War I and World War II combined. And it may have begun in the United States.
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