“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 Doctor From Nazi Germany and the Search for Life on Mars –Astrobiologists have used Mars jars–a sealed container whose insides resemble the red planet, used to test the survival of biological beings– for decades. Many didn’t know about the controversial Air Force scientist who started them, reports the New York Times.
Sputnik set off the Space Age. This virus can spark the Health Age, reports the Washington Post. The global pandemic is a hinge in history. Hundreds of thousands of lives lost globally; trillions in economic damage. It is as if the 1918 flu and the 1929 crash happened in the same year. It is the kind of event that alters the course of history so much that we measure time by it: before the pandemic — and after. It is a Sputnik moment.
Lava tubes may be havens for ancient alien life and future human explorers –Lava tubes on the moon and Mars—larger than this one in Iceland’s Surtshellir-Stefanshellir lava tube system—could provide habitat for spacefaring colonists, reports PNAS.
Science fiction explores the interconnectedness revealed by the coronavirus pandemic, reports The Conversation. In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, a theory widely shared on social media suggested that a science fiction text, Dean Koontz’s 1981 science fiction novel, The Eyes of Darkness, had predicted the coronavirus pandemic with uncanny precision. COVID-19 has held the entire world hostage, producing a resemblance to the post-apocalyptic world depicted in many science fiction texts.However, the connection between science fiction and pandemics runs deeper. They are linked by a perception of globality, what sociologist Roland Robertson defines as “the consciousness of the world as a whole.”
“800-Million-Years Ago” –A Massive Storm of Two-Quadrillion Kilograms of Rock Triggered a Terrifying Ice Age. “Our moon is a witness to the history of the solar system,” says planetary scientist Kentaro Terada at Osaka University in Japan, referring to the lack of erosion on moon’s surface and evidence from the Copernicus crater and glass impact spherules from Apollo landing sites of a massive asteroid storm about 800 million years ago, in which two quadrillion kilograms of rock rained down the moon and Earth.
Rock from Mars heads home after 600,000 years on Earth –Tiny piece of meteorite from London’s Natural History Museum will be used by rover exploring red planet, reports The Guardian.
A methane leak in Antarctica provides new insight into how methane-eating microbes evolve –These ocean-dwelling methane-hungry microbes are one of Earth’s great hopes for mitigating global warming, reports Salon.
A New State of Matter –“Black Hole Physics of Strange Metals”. “Not only does God play dice but… he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen,” said Stephen Hawking about the paradoxical physics of black Holes. Welcome to the bizarre quantum world of “strange metals” –a new state of matter.
Viking Age Smallpox Complicates Story of Viral Evolution –An extinct version of the smallpox virus dating to 1,400 years ago prompts speculation about viruses becoming more lethal over time, reports the New York Times.
Could there really be other civilizations out there in the Milky Way? The Guardian’s Nicola Davis talks to Prof Chris Conselice, whose recent work revises the decades-old Drake equation to throw new light on the possibility of contactable alien life existing in our galaxy.
From the Farside –Huge, Hovering and Silent: The Mystery of ‘Black Triangle’ UFOs: Some speculate they are super-secret US spy craft. Others question whether they might be from elsewhere, conducting some kind of surveillance, reports History.com
Australia Has a Flesh-Eating-Bacteria Problem –In the beach towns south of Melbourne, everyone, it seems, knows someone who’s been attacked, reports The Atlantic.
Discovery in Mexican Cave May Drastically Change the Known Timeline of Humans’ Arrival to the Americas –In a controversial new study, scientists cite artifacts dating the event to more than 26,000 years ago, reports The Smithsonian.
Why Everyone’s Talking About the ‘Green Banana’ Off Florida’s Coast –Scientists will soon embark on a mission to one of the deepest “blue holes” in the ocean’s floor, reports the New York Times.