Beyond Homo Sapiens to Did Neanderthals Go to War with Our Ancestors? (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.


“Beyond Homo Sapiens” –“Just a Slightly Different Roll of the Darwinian Dice’ –“Any extraterrestrial organisms we find will be made of the same atoms we are,” observes Harvard’s Center for Astrophysics, Avi Loeb, about the recent detection of a potential biosignature in the atmosphere of Venus, the nearest planet to Earth where NASA is currently considering sending a spacecraft.

Did Neanderthals go to war with our ancestors? –Exactly why the Neanderthals died out 40,000 years ago is still greatly debated, but evolutionary biologist Nicholas Longrich looks at the evidence for a war between them and modern humans, reports The Conversation.

“The Extraterrestrial Covid-19 Predictor” –The famous Drake Equation continues to influence the search for extraterrestrial life in the universe, and, perhaps, to help determine someone’s chances of catching COVID-19.

How the Space Station Became a Base to Launch Humanity’s Future –Once derided as a poster child for government waste, the outpost in orbit is now seen as a linchpin for future economic activity in space, reports The New York Times.

The International Space Station Is Doomed to Die by Fire –Twenty years after the famed orbital outpost went up, scientists and engineers are deciding how and when it will come back down, reports Scientific American.

AI Has Cracked a Key Mathematical Puzzle for Understanding Our World –“Partial differential equations can describe everything from planetary motion to plate tectonics, but they’re notoriously hard to solve. …[a new deep-learning technique for solving PDEs] is 1,000 times faster than traditional mathematical formulas, which would ease our reliance on supercomputers and increase our computational capacity to model even bigger problems. That’s right. Bring it on,” reports Karen Hao for MIT Technology Review

How many alien civilizations are out there? A new galactic survey holds a clue –The Milky Way is full of habitable real estate, with roughly half of all sunlike stars hosting Earth-size worlds that could be friendly to life, reports National Geographic.

‘It’s not a question of belief’: the film examining government UFO records –“The Phenomenon” studies the history of UFO claims from the 1940s to this summer’s revelation of a Department of Defense investigation into military sightings, reports The Guardian.

First light on a next-gen astronomical survey toward a new understanding of the cosmos –Groundbreaking all-sky survey will bolster our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, reports Carnegie Institution for Science.

Secrets behind ‘Game of Thrones’ unveiled by data science and network theory –Researchers from five universities across the UK and Ireland came together to unravel “A Song of Ice and Fire”, the books on which the TV series is based, reports University of Warwick.

Physicists 3D Print a Boat That Could Sail Down a Human Hair –“Researchers at Leiden University have 3D printed the smallest boat in the world: a 30-micrometer copy of Benchy the tug boat, a well-known 3D printer test object. This boat is so small, it could float down the interior of a human hair. The 3D-printed boat is part of an exploration of microswimmers, microscopic organisms or objects that can move through liquids,” reports John Biggs for Gizmodo.

This Flying Car Costs $599K—and It’s Now Street Legal in Holland, reports Singularity Hub.

Can Lab-Grown Brains Become Conscious? –“The studies have set the stage for a debate between those who want to avoid the creation of consciousness and those who see complex organoids as a means to study devastating human diseases. …Researchers are now calling for a set of guidelines, similar to those used in animal research, to guide the humane use of brain organoids and other experiments that could achieve consciousness,” reports Sara Reardon for Nature.

Science Fiction vs. Science Fact: What Will Aliens Look Like? –It’s a question by a science fiction author with The New York Times, reports WUSF Public Media.

Climate crisis breaks open generational rifts in US families –A sense of despair and outrage among young people over global heating is being met with indifference and dismissal among some older relatives, reports The Guardian.

We’ve Rarely Seen a Dinosaur Brain Like This Before –-While later dinosaurs in this lineage were giant herbivores with tiny brains, this small species packed a lot more power in its skull, reports The New York Times.

NASA objects to new mega-constellation, citing risk of “catastrophic collision” –“This particular region of space tends to produce a large number of conjunctions.”

A Pinnacle of Coral Is Discovered in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef –The underwater skyscraper teems with sea life and had been overlooked in past surveys of the reef system, reports The New York Times.

Corals are first animals seen to pass on mutations acquired as adults, reports New Scientist

Carlo Rovelli: Where does the stuff that falls into a black hole go? –What happens to matter in a black hole? The question has spawned many paradoxes, and in an extract from his latest book, physics superstar Carlo Rovelli proposes an answer, reports New Scientist.

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