“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.
Abigail Allwood’s Hunt for Alien Fossils on Mars Has Begun, reports Isaac Schultz for Gizmodo –When the NASA Mars rover Perseverance was dramatically airlifted through the Red Planet’s atmosphere and touched down on the iron-rich soil, geologist and astrobiologist Abigail Allwood was at home on Earth, watching the events unfold via livestream like the rest of us. Speaking over the phone the next day, her thought process was probably similar to yours: “Amazing—talk about incredible,” she said. “Excitement yesterday about landing and today about the landing site.” But in the months to come, Allwood will have a unique charge, one that years of terrestrial study have prepared her for: seeking out life on Mars.
The Secret Life of a Coronavirus –An oily, 100-nanometer-wide bubble of genes has killed more than two million people and reshaped the world. Scientists don’t quite know what to make of it, reports Carl Zimmer for the New York Times. ”
Nature was expanding as billions of people were retreating from the Covid-19 pandemic. The change was so swift, so striking that scientists needed a new name for it: the anthropause.”
The six numbers that define the entire Universe, reports BBC Science Focus –In this edited extract from The Little Book of Cosmology, physicist Prof Lyman Page explains how our model of the Universe relies on just six parameters.”The first three parameters tell us about the contents of the Universe. We describe them as fractions of a total matter and energy budget, like the components of a pie chart. The first parameter describes the amount of normal matter, or atoms, in the Universe, and it says that atoms account for just 5 per cent of the Universe. The second parameter describes dark matter, some type of new fundamental particle that we do not yet understand, which accounts for 25 per cent of the Universe.”
‘Space hurricane’ observed above the North Pole –The space hurricane was detected in the Earth’s upper atmosphere and ‘rained electrons’ over the North Pole for nearly eight hours, reports Science Focus.
Earth’s Hidden ‘Innermost-Inner’ Core –“May Reveal an Unknown, Dramatic Event in the Planet’s History”, reports The Daily Galaxy. “We found evidence that may indicate a change in the structure of iron, which suggests perhaps two separate cooling events in Earth’s history,” said Joanne Stephenson, a researcher from The Australian National University (ANU), about the confirmation of the existence of the Earth’s “innermost inner core” that may point to an unknown, dramatic event in the Earth’s history.
“The Methuselah Dilemma” — Atacama Cosmology Telescope Resolves True Age of Our Universe, reports The Daily Galaxy. In 2013, the Hubble Space Telescope found the birth certificate of oldest known star in the universe, cataloged as HD 140283, aptly named “methuselah”. The star, located in the constellation Libra, which is at the very first stages of expanding into a red giant, could be as old as 14.5 billion years (plus or minus 0.8 billion years), which at first glance would make it older than the universe’s calculated age of about 13.8 billion years, creating what we commonly call a dilemma.
The Moon Has a Comet-Like Tail. Every Month It Shoots a Beam Around Earth, reports Robin George Andrews for The New York Times –“It almost seems like a magical thing,” said one of the astronomers involved in studying the lunar phenomenon.
Surface Bubbles Could Have Evolved into Earth’s First Cells –Artificial “protocells” suggest the complex biochemical mechanisms used by living cells could have originated in simple bubbles, reports Inside Science.
How our abuse of nature makes pandemics like covid-19 more likely –From habitat degradation to squalid animal treatment, our part in allowing “zoonotic” diseases like covid-19 to leap into humans is becoming ever clearer, reports New Scientist.
Neanderthals Listened to the World Much Like Us –A reconstructed Neanderthal ear adds a new piece to the puzzle of whether the early humans could speak, reports The New York Times.
Butterflies are vanishing out West. Scientists say climate change is to blame. –The rate of decline is “calamitous,” one scientist said, and has implications for crops and the environment, reports The Washington Post.
India’s revolutionary sustainable roads –From lower carbon emissions to fewer potholes, there are a number of benefits to building a layer of plastic into roads, reports Chermaine Lee for BBC Future
Did Woolly Mammoths Overlap With First Humans in New England? asks Amy Olson for Dartmouth News/
Researchers trace the age of a Mount Holly mammoth rib fragment from Mount Holly, Vt. –“It has long been thought that megafauna and humans in New England did not overlap in time and space and that it was probably ultimately environmental change that led to the extinction of these animals in the region, but our research provides some of the first evidence that they may have actually co-existed,” says co-author Nathaniel Kitchel.
Strange Earthquakes in Utah Reveal Volcanic Activity Hidden Below The Desert, reports ScienceAlert –It might not look like it, but the arid expanses of Utah conceal an ancient volcanic complex, and this hidden underground system is still active far below the desert’s surface, scientists say.
Largest Glowing Shark Species Discovered Near New Zealand –It’s the biggest bioluminescent vertebrate found on land or sea, so far, reports The New York Times.
The Galaxy Report newsletter brings you twice-weekly news of space and science that has the capacity to provide clues to the mystery of our existence and add a much needed cosmic perspective in our current Anthropocene Epoch.