“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.
Physics is stuck — and needs another Einstein to revolutionize it, says Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb. The potential for a great mind to revolutionize physics is greater than ever, reports Salon. Given the landscape of physics today, could an Einstein-like physicist exist again — someone who, say, works in a patent office, quietly pondering the nature of space-time, yet whose revelations cause much of the field to be completely rethought? “There are some dark clouds in physics,” says Loeb “People will tell you, ‘we just need to figure out which particles makes the dark matter, it’s just another particle. It has some weak interaction, and that’s pretty much it.’ But I think there is a very good chance that we are missing some very important ingredients that a brilliant person might recognize in the coming years.”
“We are Spaceships” –Extraterrestrial Viruses May Have Influenced Origin and Evolution of Life –“The human imagination is a preview of coming attractions,” Albert Einstein was fond of saying. Viruses are essentially roving segments of genetic material that have learned how to “put on space suits and leave the cell,” observed Greg Bear in his epic work of science fiction, Darwin’s Radio, that mirrors Einstein’s adage, suggesting that viruses in our genome function as carriers of evolutionary messages—a genetic radio, so to speak. In this sense, we may simply be spaceships for virus.
How Life Could Continue to Evolve –“the ultimate currency of life in the universe may be life itself, writes Caleb Scharf for Nautilus. The marvelous genetic surprises that biological and technological Darwinian experimentation can come up with given enough diversity of circumstances and time. Perhaps, in the end, our galaxy, and even our universe, is simply the test tube for a vast chemical computation exploring a mathematical terrain of possibilities that stretches on to infinity.”
Want to Talk to Aliens? Try Changing the Technological Channel beyond Radio, reports Scientific American. Finding cosmic civilizations might require a more innovative approach than listening for radio transmissions. A new model simulating contact across the Milky Way suggests—perhaps unsurprisingly—that unless our galaxy is dense with long-lived intelligent species, the odds of stumbling across a signal are low. Yet the findings, which were published in the International Journal of Astrobiology, also point out that the probability of interaction could be greatest at the moment when a novel communication technology first comes online.
Across 10 Million Stars, Not a Single Whisper of Alien Technology, reports Science Alert. In a comprehensive search of a patch of the Southern sky, not even a hint of alien technology has been detected at low radio frequencies. Across at least 10 million stars that populate the Vela region – the deepest and widest survey for extraterrestrial intelligence yet – the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) in Australia found none of the technosignatures that might be expected within its range.
“Worst-Case Climate Scenario” – Ice Sheets in Greenland and Antarctica Loss Rates Rapidly Increasing, reports SciTech Daily. Since the systematic monitoring of ice sheets began in the early 1990s, Greenland and Antarctica combined lost 6.4 trillion tonnes of ice between 1992 and 2017 – pushing global sea levels up by 17.8 millimeters. If these rates continue, ice sheets are expected to raise sea levels by a further 17 cm – exposing an additional 16 million people to annual coastal flooding by the end of the century.
Biopharma Leaders Unite to Stand with Science— Nine CEOs sign historic pledge to continue to make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals the top priority in development of the first COVID-19 vaccines reports Business Wire.
US political crackdown spurs fears of Chinese brain-drain, reports Nature. An exodus of foreign-born scientists would be a great loss for US science, say research leaders.
Zombie wildfires are blazing through the Arctic, causing record burning, reports Live Science. The Arctic wildfire season has been the worst since record-keeping began.
How German military scientists likely identified the nerve agent used to attack Alexei Navalny, reports Science. –On 2 September, German Chancellor Angela Merkel revealed that Alexei Navalny, a Russian opposition politician, had been poisoned with a nerve agent “identified unequivocally in tests” as a Novichok—one of a family of exotic Soviet-era chemical weapons. Merkel, a chemist by training, did not reveal the nature of the tests, conducted in a military lab in Munich. But scientists familiar with Novichoks have a good idea how the toxicological sleuths went about it—and are impressed at how fast the culprit was unmasked.
Chinese reusable experimental spacecraft releases unknown object before returning to Earth, reports Space News.A Chinese reusable experimental spacecraft released an unknown object before deorbiting Sunday, ending a secretive two-day mission in low Earth orbit. The spacecraft launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert Thursday atop a Long March 2F rocket. Airspace closure notices issued a day earlier provided the only clue to the timing and nature of the mission.
How Close Are Computers to Automating Mathematical Reasoning? –AI tools are shaping next-generation theorem provers, and with them the relationship between math and machine, reports Quanta.
The companies that help people vanish, Each year, some choose to ‘disappear’ and abandon their lives, jobs, homes and families. In Japan, there are companies that can help those looking to escape into thin air, reports The BBC
‘Wild West’ mentality lingers in modern populations of US mountain regions, reports the University of Cambridge –When historian Frederick Jackson Turner presented his famous thesis on the US frontier in 1893, he described the “coarseness and strength combined with acuteness and acquisitiveness” it had forged in the American character.
Melting Glaciers Are Filling Unstable Lakes. And They’re Growing, reports the New York Times. Researchers have compiled the first global database of glacial lakes and found that they increased in volume by nearly 50 percent over the last few decades. That growth, largely fueled by climate change, means that such floods will likely strike more frequently in the future, the team concluded.
Paris Is About to Change, reports The Atlantic.The city was hit hard by the pandemic, but French leaders know transformation is necessary.
A Mysterious Crater Suddenly Opened Up in the Arctic Tundra, reports Motherboard/Vice.Mysterious craters have been popping up in the Arctic tundra in recent years, and the latest example is 50 meters deep.
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