Black Hole in Our Solar System to The Conscious Internet (Planet Earth Report)

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.


Is There a Black Hole in Our Backyard? asks Dennis Overbye for The New York Times –“What is an astrophysicist to do during a pandemic, except maybe daydream about having a private black hole? Although it is probably wishful thinking, some astronomers contend that a black hole may be lurking in the outer reaches of our solar system. All summer, they have been arguing over how to find it, if indeed it is there, and what to do about it, proposing plans that are only halfway out of this world.”

Are aliens hiding in plain sight? asks The Guardian. Several missions this year are seeking out life on the red planet. But would we recognize extraterrestrials if we found them?

Scientists find ‘secret molecule’ that allows bacteria to exhale electricity, reports Live Science.–The soil bacteria breathe through ‘giant snorkels’ made of a special conductive protein, the researchers found.

The tipping points at the heart of the climate crisis, reports The Guardian. –Many parts of the Earth’s climate system have been destabilised by warming, from ice sheets and ocean currents to the Amazon rainforest – and scientists believe that if one collapses others could follow

The deadly viruses that vanished without trace, reports BBC –Scientists are only just starting to unravel why some viruses disappear, while others can linger and cause disease for centuries.

Is the Internet Conscious? If It Were, How Would We Know? asks Meghan O’Gieblyn for Wired–“Does the internet behave like a creature with an internal life? Does it manifest the fruits of consciousness? There are certainly moments when it seems to. Google can anticipate what you’re going to type before you fully articulate it to yourself. Facebook ads can intuit that a woman is pregnant before she tells her family and friends. It is easy, in such moments, to conclude that you’re in the presence of another mind—though given the human tendency to anthropomorphize, we should be wary of quick conclusions.”

For Math Fans: A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Number 42, reports Scientific American –Here is how a perfectly ordinary number captured the interest of sci-fi enthusiasts, geeks and mathematicians.

“Vital for Life on Earth” –Phosphorus-Rich Stars Critical in Search for Extraterrestrial Life

Synthetic Biologists Have Created a Slow-Growing Version of the Coronavirus to Give as a Vaccine, reports MIT Tech Review –“It might seem scary to imagine getting infected by the coronavirus on purpose, but attenuated-virus vaccines are common. The kids’ flu vaccine FluMist has a weakened influenza virus in it. And Serum Institute sells 750,000 doses a year of vaccines using live measles. The only disease ever successfully eradicated from the globe, smallpox, was wiped out with shots of a live virus.”

The Most Important Number for the West’s Hideous Fire Season, reports The Atlantic –A little-noticed indicator was flashing red before any of the blazes began.

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