“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.
Unanswered –“Can Life in the Universe Be Explained By Physics?” –-“One can best feel in dealing with living things how primitive physics still is,” said Albert Einstein. “Can life be explained in terms of physics or will it always be a mystery? And if physics can explain life, is existing physics up to the job, or might it require something fundamentally new – new concepts, new laws even?” asks Arizona State University cosmologist, theoretical physicist, and astrobiologist, Paul Davies answering Einstein.
Lockdown has affected your memory – here’s why –Many of us have found ourselves in an isolated routine during the pandemic – and it turns out, that’s not very good for your memories, reports the BBC.
Moderna’s Covid Vaccine: What You Need to Know –Does this mean the end of the pandemic? Who was in the trial? Is it part of Operation Warp Speed? And other questions answered, reports The New York Times.
Yale astronomers venture on quest for Planet Nine, reports Yale University, Yale astronomers are joining the scientific effort to search for Planet Nine — a hypothesized planet in the outskirts of the solar system — despite some skepticism in the field about its existence.
“The Ancestors” –Enigmatic Primordial Galaxy–‘Kraken’–Collided with the Milky Way 11 Billion Years Ago –“The collision with Kraken must have been the most significant merger the Milky Way ever experienced,” said astrophysicist Diederik Kruijssen at the Center for Astronomy at the University of Heidelberg (ZAH), about artificial intelligence analysis of ancient globular clusters almost as old as the universe itself orbiting the Milky Way that revealed a stunning picture of successive mergers with neighboring galaxies creating what is, in effect, a galactic “family tree”.
Texas astronomers revive idea for ‘Ultimately Large Telescope’ on the moon, reports the University of Texas McDonald Observatory -“Theory predicts that there was an even earlier time, when galaxies did not yet exist, but where individual stars first formed—the elusive Population III stars. This moment of ‘very first light’ is beyond the capabilities even of the powerful JWST, and instead needs an ‘ultimate’ telescope.”
A Near-Earth Asteroid Passing Us in December may Actually be an Old Moon Rocket, reports Phil Plait for SyFy Wire
“Galaxies & Neurons” –Scientists Compare the Complexity of the Human Brain to the Cosmos –“If you look at the entire physical cosmos, our brains are a tiny, tiny part of it. But they’re the most perfectly organized part.” says Noble-Prize winner, physicist Sir Roger Penrose, comparing the complexity of the universe to the human brain with its cerebral cortex, the folded gray matter that covers the first couple of millimeters of the outer brain like wrapping paper, where “matter is transformed into the mystery of consciousness.”
Why we’re in for a long wait to hear from intelligent aliens, reports New Scientist. –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.
Charles Darwin’s hunch about early life was probably right, reports the BBC. –In a few scrawled notes to a friend, biologist Charles Darwin theorized how life began. Not only was it probably correct, his theory was a century ahead of its time.
The intelligent monster that you should let eat you, reports BBC Future.–This theoretical beast, called a “utility monster”, is a philosophical thought experiment, originally proposed in the 1970s. To reject its argument and stop it eating you, it asks you to discard a widely held and intuitive principle about how to weigh up right and wrong.
Vaccine Unproven? No Problem in China, Where People Scramble for Shots, reports The New York Times. –Many say they are reassured because politicians and executives have been inoculated. But experts say the risks outweigh the benefits.
A Vast Ancient Lake Is Hidden Deep Under Greenland’s Ice, Scientists Discover, reports Motherboard Science. –Buried under a mile of ice, the basin once contained a lake the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and may reveal insights about our future in a warming world.
The Alaska Tsunami That Can’t Be Stopped –-Melting ice has left one small town on the brink of disaster, reports
Using Wolves as First Responders Against a Deadly Brain Disease, reports The New York Times.–Some scientists say that the predators are essential to curbing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease because they pick off weak deer.
Black Holes Are Finally Trending –A Nobel Prize is just the latest proof that a concept rejected by Einstein in 1939 has become one of the hottest topics in physics, reports Scientific America,
The International Space Station Is Ailing. –Its Replacement Will Shape the Future of Space Exploration, reports Singularity Hub.Humans have now had a continuous presence in space for 20 years thanks to the International Space Station (ISS), but the facility is unlikely to survive into the next decade. What comes next could shape the future of space exploration.
Weather on Jupiter and Saturn may be driven by different forces than on Earth, reports Phys,org –weather systems on Jupiter and Saturn might be driven by internal rather than external forces, resulting in outcomes such as the formation of large anticyclones like Jupiter’s famous red spot.
The Denialist Playbook –On vaccines, evolution, and more, rejection of science has followed a familiar pattern, reports Scientific American. Once upon a time, in a land not far away, there was a horrible virus that instilled terror in every town and home. Although most people who became infected showed no symptoms or recovered within a week, in a small fraction of cases the illness progressed, causing loss of reflexes and muscle control, paralysis and, sometimes, death
Physicists Pin Down Nuclear Reaction From Moments After the Big Bang, reports Quanta. –The newly-measured rate of a key nuclear fusion process from the Big Bang matches the picture of the universe 380,000 years later.
“Our Original Sun was a Supernova” –Has the Phenomenon Effected Earth’s Evolution and Climate? –“Although Earth was originally created from the Sun (as part of the ecliptic plane of debris and dust that circulated around the Sun 4.5 billion years ago), our Sun is barely hot enough to fuse hydrogen to helium, observed physicist Michio Kaku in Parallel Worlds: A Journey through Creation, Higher Dimensions, and the Future of the Cosmos. “This means that our true “mother” sun was actually an unnamed star or collection of stars that died billions of years ago in a supernova, which then seeded nearby nebulae with the higher elements beyond iron that make up our body. Literally, our bodies are made of stardust, from stars that died billions of years ago.”
The Pandemic Safety Rule That Really Matters –Don’t spend time indoors with people outside your household, reports THe Atlantic.There’s never a good time to get sick with COVID-19, but in the next few weeks it will be especially dangerous. America’s coronavirus epidemic is really, really bad right now.
“Violent Drag of Dark Matter”– Is Turning Up the Thermostat of the Universe –“As the universe evolves, gravity pulls dark matter and gas in space together into galaxies and clusters of galaxies,” said Yi-Kuan Chiang, a research fellow at The Ohio State University Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics. “The drag is violent—so violent that more and more gas is shocked and heated up.”
Scientists Destroyed a Nest of Murder Hornets. Here’s What They Learned, reports The New York Times. Officials vacuumed the country’s first nest of so-called murder hornets last month in Washington State. The invasive insects could multiply and kill native bee populations, endangering crops and ecosystems.