The Weirdness of Gravity to the Virus Hunters and Immortal AI (Planet Earth Report)

Earth from 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.


The Virus Hunters –Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists were searching for potential human pathogens in wild animals. They’ve found thousands, reports The Smithsonian.

Who’s a Bot? Who’s Not? –-It sometimes seems that automated bots are taking over social media and driving human discourse. But some (real) researchers aren’t so sure, reports the New York Times

Could an AI Be Immortal? –Data is under attack and uploads his brain. Does he survive? reports Susan Schneider for Consider Data, the android from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Suppose he finds himself on a hostile planet, surrounded by aliens that are just about to dismantle him. In a last-ditch effort to survive, he quickly uploads his artificial brain onto the Enterprise computer. Does Data survive? And could he, at least in principle, do this every time he’s in a crisis, so that he’d be immortal?

Alien Structures Discovered Deep Inside Earth –”Date Back to Before the Planet had a Moon” –massive anomalous objects could be partially melted material that predate the formation of the Moon from a colossal collision between early Earth and a Mars-sized object more than four billion years ago.

Killer Light –ultraviolet light is highly energetic, able to fade the paint on your car or the dyes in your carpet. And it’s also true that it can wipe out microbes. Think of the robots with UV lamps that roll down the aisles at Whole Foods to dispatch any viruses on the shelves, or the lights used to sterilize airplane toilets and subway cars, reports Seth Shostak for SETI.

What’s a coronavirus superspreader? –Asks MIT Technology Review. As we learn more about how the coronavirus spreads between people, there’s more evidence to suggest that most infections are transmitted by a select few individuals we call “superspreaders.” Here’s what a superspreader is, the role these people play in transmitting the virus, and what we’re trying to do about it.

Cosmos at the Bottom of the Sea –The secret history of Earth’s supernova impacts –armed with data from SN 1987A, the supernova Johannes Kepler spotted in our own Milky Way galaxy in 1604, scientists calculated a theoretical radius of doom, inside which a supernova would have grievous effects. They concluded, following Stephen Hawking’s dire prediction, The bottom line was that there would be a supernova close enough to the Earth to drastically affect the ozone layer about once every billion years.

Paleolithic French didn’t let their dead rest peacefully-The unusual burials hint at complex social structure and spiritual beliefs, reports Ars Technica.

Why Gravity Is Not Like the Other Forces –Physicists have traced three of the four forces of nature — the electromagnetic force and the strong and weak nuclear forces — to their origins in quantum particles. But the fourth fundamental force, gravity, is different, reports Natalie Wolchover for Quanta.

America Is Giving Up on the Pandemic –Businesses are reopening. Protests are erupting nationwide. But the virus isn’t done with us, reports The Atlantic.

Cosmic Evolution –“There Could Be More Than 30 Intelligent Civilizations in the Milky Way” –New research suggests that searches for extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations not only reveals the existence of how life forms, but also gives us clues for how long our own civilization will last, according to astrophysicist Christopher Conselice, based on the hypothesis that it takes 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on exoplanets, as it did on Earth.

One Hundred Years Ago, a Lynch Mob Killed Three Men in Minnesota –The murders in Duluth offered yet another example that the North was no exception when it came to anti-black violence, reports The Smithsonian.

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