“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.
For the First Time Ever, Scientists Caught Time Crystals Interacting –That’s huge news for the most mysterious phase of matter—and maybe physics as we know it, reports Popular Mechanics. For the first time, scientists have observed an interaction of a rare and baffling form of matter called time crystals. The crystals look at a glance like “regular” crystals, but they have a relationship to time that both intrigues and puzzles scientists because of its unpredictability. Now, experts say they could have applications in quantum computing.
“There’s Something We’re Missing About the Universe” Everything we know and love about the universe and all the laws of physics as they apply, apply to four percent of the universe. That’s stunning,” says astronomer and “Cosmos” host, Neil deGrasse Tyson. Most of the mass in the universe is missing, hidden in some exotic, as yet undetectable form from the visible matter that makes up galaxies, stars, planets, and Homo sapiens.
Europe is building a ‘digital twin’ of Earth to revolutionize climate forecasts, reports Science. Simulating the atmosphere, ocean, ice, and land with unrivaled precision, providing forecasts of floods, droughts, and fires from days to years in advance. Destination Earth, as the effort is called, won’t stop there: It will also attempt to capture human behavior, enabling leaders to see the impacts of weather events and climate change on society and gauge the effects of different climate policies.
“Lucky or Inevitable” –Life May Have Relied On Something Other Than Oxygen for the First 1.5 billion Years.“ Is the existence of life on Earth a lucky fluke or an inevitable consequence of the laws of nature? Is it simple for life to emerge on a newly formed planet, or is it the virtually impossible product of a long series of unlikely events? asks Nobel Prize laureate and Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Jack Szostak.
Neanderthal genes increase risk of serious Covid-19, study claims –-Strand of DNA inherited by modern humans is linked to likelihood of falling severely ill, reports The Guardian. The origins of the risk genes came to light when scientists in Sweden and Germany compared the DNA of very sick Covid-19 patients with that from Neanderthals and their mysterious sister group, the Denisovans. The stretch of DNA that makes patients more likely to fall seriously ill closely matched that collected from a Neanderthal in Croatia.
Dramatic changes in the Arctic suggest climate change could return Earth to Pliocene conditions of 3 million years ago –Florida and California’s Central Valley would be under water, and it would be too hot to grow corn and wheat in the Midwest and Great Plains, reports Market Watch.
Some Physicists See Signs of Cosmic Strings From the Big Bang, reports Quanta. Subtle aberrations in the clockwork blinking of stars could become “the result of the century.” That’s if the distortions are produced by a network of giant filaments left over from the birth of the universe.
Supermassive Black Holes Might Really Be ‘Traversable’ Wormholes, Astrophysicists Suggest –“The wormholes we are considering are traversable wormholes, so theoretically spacecraft can travel through them,” reports Motherboard Science.
Why we’re in for a long wait to hear from intelligent aliens –Hints of bacteria on Venus are encouraging, but finding life beyond Earth is the easy part. A new analysis suggests the evolution of human-like intelligence on another planet is more improbable than we like to imagine, reports New Scientist.
A new map shows where Asian giant hornets could thrive in the U.S. –Washington state officials are racing to find and kill ‘murder hornets’ before they can spread, reports Science News.
First Fossil Feather Ever Found Belonged to This Dinosaur–To settle a lengthy debate, a team of paleontologists says the specimen unearthed in the 19th century was shed by an archaeopteryx, reports The New York Times.
How a Memory Quirk of the Human Brain Can Galvanize AI –-A recent study by researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Baylor College of Medicine did just that. Drawing inspiration from the mechanics of human memory, the team turbo-charged their algorithm with a powerful capability called “memory replay”—a sort of “rehearsal” of experiences in the brain that cements new learnings into long-lived memories, reports Singularity Hub.
Melting Ice Reveals Mummified Penguins in Antarctica –Birds that appeared “freshly dead” near an Italian research base turned out to be centuries old, reports The New York Times.
This Tiny Electric Car Is Selling Like Hot Cakes in China–In China, though, electric cars are giving gas cars a run for their money—one in particular, the Wuling Hong Guang Mini EV. Launched in late July, the Hong Guang generated over 15,000 orders within 20 days of its release, and racked up another 35,000 in the subsequent month. At a total of 50,000 orders in under two months, then, it briskly surpassed Chinese orders for Tesla Model 3s in the same period, reports Singularity Hub.
After Wildfires Stop Burning, a Danger in the Drinking Water –Experts are warning that existing water safety rules are not suitable to a world where wildfires destroy more residential areas than in the past, reports The New York Times.