Planet Earth Report –“The Terrifying Message Lurking in Earth’s Ancient Record to Robots Evolving Autonomously”

 

Earth from Space

 

“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.

 

The Terrifying Warning Lurking in the Earth’s Ancient Rock Record –-Our climate models could be missing something big, reports Peter Brannen, author of Ends of the World for The Atlantic. “We live on a wild planet, a wobbly, erupting, ocean-sloshed orb that careens around a giant thermonuclear explosion in the void. Big rocks whiz by overhead, and here on the Earth’s surface, whole continents crash together, rip apart, and occasionally turn inside out, killing nearly everything. Our planet is fickle…Of more immediate interest today, a variation in the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere of as little as 0.1 percent has meant the difference between sweltering Arctic rainforests and a half mile of ice atop Boston. That negligible wisp of the air is carbon dioxide.”

What Dust From Space Tells Us About Ourselves –“Micrometeorites constantly fall on every corner of Earth. Matthew Genge is using these shards of interplanetary space to understand Earth and its place in the solar system,” reports Natalie Wolchover for Quanta.

Scientists Have Proposed a New Particle That Is a Portal to a 5th Dimension –The path to dark matter and other fundamental enigmas may be through a warped extra dimension, according to a new study that proposes a new theory of the universe,” reports Beck Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice Science.

The Pandemic Broke the Flu–This winter has been an extraordinarily quiet flu season. Scientists aren’t sure the silence will last, reports Katherine Wu for The Atlantic.

Last and First Men review: An epic 2-billion-year history of humanity -“Last and First Men is a 2-billion-year history, detailing the dreams, aspirations, achievements and failings of 17 different kinds of future humans (Homo sapiens is first). In the light of an ageing sun, they evolve, blossom, speciate, die; the film is set in the moment of extinction. It is a film that ranks with Solaris and 2001: A Space Odyssey and it may even break your heart, says Simon Ings for New Scientist.

“The Methuselah Dilemma” — Atacama Cosmology Telescope Resolves True Age of Our Universe reports The Daily Galaxy.

In the Oceans, the Volume Is Rising as Never Before –“A new review of the scientific literature confirms that anthropogenic noise is becoming unbearable for undersea life,” reports Sabrina Imbler for The New York Times.

The origins of ‘Oumuamua –-“In the introduction of his sixth book, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, Avi Loeb, chair of the Harvard Department of Astronomy, acknowledges the elephant in the room: “In the spirit of transparency, know that some scientists find my hypothesis unfashionable, outside of mainstream science, even dangerously ill conceived. But the most egregious error we can make, I believe, is not to take this possibility seriously enough,” reports Dov Greenbaum for Science. “The provocative possibility he refers to is that an interstellar object known as ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout”), which passed through the Solar System in 2017, is an artificial object created by intelligent extraterrestrials.”

Archaeologists Are Studying a New Type of Mummy They’ve Never Encountered –“Its mysterious cocoon could have “aided the metaphysical transition of the deceased into the afterlife and the sphere of the god Osiris,” according to researchers,” reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice Science.

We’re Teaching Robots to Evolve Autonomously—So They Can Adapt to Life Alone on Distant Planets, reports Singularity Hub. The Autonomous Robot Evolution (ARE) projec tis at work designing robots to work in unknown or inhospitable environments, like exoplanets or deep ocean trenches, still poses a considerable challenge for scientists and engineers. Out in the cosmos, what shape and size should the ideal robot be? Should it crawl or walk? What tools will it need to manipulate its environment, and how will it survive extremes of pressure, temperature and chemical corrosion?

This Hive-Like House Is 3D Printed, Carbon-Neutral, and Made of Clay, reports Singularity Hub.–“If you think it looks sort of like the giant nest or hive of some sort of winged insect, you’re spot-on; TECLA’s design is based on the hive of the potter wasp, a species of wasp found in the northern hemisphere that preys on caterpillars and whose hive is made of mud and shaped like a pot.”

This Is Where Empathy Lives in the Brain, and How It Works, reports Singularity Hub –“This week, in a study with over half a dozen people, a team from Harvard Medical School and MIT recorded directly from single neurons in the forepart of their brains. For the first time, the scientists identified a special group of cells that lets us acknowledge and predict someone else’s hidden beliefs. Even crazier, these neurons loyally encoded demonstrably false ideas that others may have, and beliefs that the person being studied doesn’t necessarily agree with.”

THe Galaxy Report