Check off another amazing few days on Planet Earth, with news stories ranging from the detection of the closest black hole to Earth to what might be one of the great scientific discoveries to Stephen Hawking’ very scary warning.
China Is Set to Launch First Module of Massive Space Station--The new orbiting laboratory will host research from Chinese and international scientists, reports Scientific American. “Since the Soviet Union launched the first space station, Salyut 1, 50 years ago, humans have lived on a total of 11 such facilities in Earth orbit. China will soon add one more to that list.”
Is the ‘new muon’ really a great scientific discovery? For now, I’m cautious, reports renowned physicist Carlo Rovelli for The Guardian –“There is something curious about the great experiments and discoveries in fundamental physics from the past few decades. They have covered black holes, gravitational waves, the Higgs particle and quantum entanglement. They have led to Nobel prizes, reached the front pages of newspapers and made the scientific community proud. But they haven’t told us anything new: they have confirmed what we expected about the world.”
Astronomers Have Detected The Closest Black Hole to Earth. Thankfully, It’s Tiny –Astronomers think they have discovered a tiny black hole, with a mass so small it places it in an exclusive category. Best of all, it’s excitingly close by. “Roughly 1,500 light-years from our own planet, in a Milky Way constellation known as Monoceros, this is the closest black hole candidate to our planet scientists have yet had the fortune to find,” reports Science Alert.
“The Radio Species” –Scientists Doubt ‘Human Niche’ Would Be Filled If We Go Extinct, reports The Daily Galaxy. –“For what purpose did the human brain evolve is a question that has puzzled scientists for decades. In 2010 Colin Blakemore, an Oxford neurobiologist argued that a mutation in the brain of a single human being 200,000 years ago turned intellectually able primates into a super-intelligent species that would conquer the world. Homo sapiens appears to be a genetic accident.”
A Neuroscientist’s Poignant Study of How We Forget Most Things in Life, reports David Kortava for The New Yorker. “In “Remember,” an engrossing survey of the latest research, Lisa Genova explains that a healthy brain quickly forgets most of what passes into conscious awareness. The fragments of experience that do get encoded into long-term memory are then subject to “creative editing.”
India’s massive COVID surge puzzles scientists –The virus is spreading faster than ever before in India despite previous high infection rates in megacities, which should have conferred some protection, reports Nature.
The Fat, Wobbly, Nuisance of a Particle That Could Change How We Understand the Universe, reports Slate.”scientists at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, announced a breakthrough result that could upend particle physics. It turns out that when you expose particles known as muons—aka “fat electrons”—to intense magnetic fields, they behave in ways that can’t be explained by physics as we know it, suggesting there’s a bunch of stuff happening in the quantum world for scientists to uncover.”
Humanity’s greatest ally against climate change is the Earth itself –Ecosystems can draw down carbon and buffer us from the worst effects of climate change — but only if we protect them, reports The Washington Post.
Antarctica’s ‘Doomsday Glacier’ close to tipping point, unmanned sub reveals, reports Ben Turner for Live Science. The glacier could be melting at the key points anchoring it to the land.
Stephen Hawking’s Warning –“Treating AI as Science Fiction Would Potentially Be Our Worst Mistake Ever” reports The Daily Galaxy. “We should plan ahead,” warned physicist Stephen Hawking who died March, 2018, and was buried next to Isaac Newton. “If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here, we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not, but this is more or less what has happened with AI.”
Cosmism: Russia’s religion for the rocket age –Nikolai Fyodorov’s beliefs in a cosmic religion centered on life off Earth helped inspire some of the Soviet Union’s most brilliant engineers, reports The BBC.
Gaia, the Scientist –What if the first woman scientist was simply the first woman? reports Nautilus. Scientists arguing about whether a science qualifies as Science is more common than you might think. Zoom in, and you’ll see scientists arguing about who does (and doesn’t) qualify as a Scientist. Within the last five decades or so, it is generally accepted that more and more women have become Scientists, which implies that if we look back in time, there were fewer and fewer. This ultimately begs the question: Who was the first Woman Scientist?
The Deepest Dive to Find the Secrets of the Whales, reports Scientific American. On Earth Day, Scientific American sits down with National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry to talk about free diving with whales and filming the giant mammals within five meters or less.
Our Universal Ancestor LUCA –“Common to Alien Life Beyond Earth” reports The Daily Galaxy. “I think that if we find life elsewhere it’s going to look, at least chemically, very much like modern life,” says evolutionary biologist William Martin at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. “Among the astrobiological implications of our LUCA paper is the fact that you do not need light. It’s chemical energy that ran the origin of life, chemical energy that ran the first cells and chemical energy that is present today on bodies like Enceladus.”
Why Are Police Using a World War I–Era Chemical Weapon on Civilians? asks Scientific American. Most people think tear gas is relatively harmless, but we know very little about its long-term effects on human health and the environment.
Watch the Incredible Full Video of Ingenuity’s First Flight on Mars –In a video released on Monday afternoon, NASA showed off Ingenuity rising into the Martian air to pull off the first powered flight on an alien world, reports Motherboard Vice.
“Powering the Universe?” –Relic Light of the Big Bang Reveals an Exotic Unknown Force, reports The Daily Galaxy. “Cosmologists speculate based on hints of twisted light that offer clues to an exotic substance called “quintessence”that could be the unknown force accelerating the expansion of the universe, with implications not only for cosmology, but also for fundamental physics — the standard model of particle physics does not predict its existence.”
How Maxwell’s Demon Continues to Startle Scientists--The thorny thought experiment has been turned into a real experiment — one that physicists use to probe the physics of information, reports Jonathan O’Callaghan for Quanta. The inexorable rise in entropy, or disorder, as quantified by the second law of thermodynamics, takes on an almost mathematical certainty. So of course physicists are constantly trying to break it.
The soft power of Yuri Gagarin –The cosmonaut turned into a Cold War diplomat, reports BBC Future. The spaceman who came in from the cold.
DNA of Giant ‘Corpse Flower’ Parasite Surprises Biologists –The bizarre genome of the world’s most mysterious flowering plants shows how far parasites will go in stealing, deleting and duplicating DNA, reports Christie Wilcox for Quanta.
Microbes are siphoning massive amounts of carbon from Earth’s tectonic plates, reports Raleigh McElvery for Science.