Another amazing week on Planet Earth, with news stories ranging from quantum computers are revealing an unexpected new theory of reality to James Benford’s search for extraterrestrial artifacts to the 2.5 billion Tyrannosaurus rex that lived during the species 2.4 million years of existence on Earth.
Quantum computers are revealing an unexpected new theory of reality–A powerful new idea about how the laws of physics work could bring breakthroughs on everything from quantum gravity to consciousness, says researcher Chiara Marletto for New Scientist.
How Many Alien Probes Could Have Visited Earth? Asks James Benford for Centauri Dreams–“Benford is continuing his research into the still nascent field known as SETA, the Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts. A plasma physicist and CEO of Microwave Sciences, Benford became intrigued with recent discoveries about Earth co-orbital objects — there is even a known Earth Trojan — and their possibilities in a SETI context. If we accept the possibility that an extraterrestrial civilization may at some point in Earth’s 4.5 billion year history have visited the Solar System, where might we find evidence of it?”
How many T. rex roamed the ancient Earth? –During 2.4 million years of existence on Earth, a total of 2.5 billion Tyrannosaurus rex ever lived, and 20,000 individual animals would have been alive at any moment, according to a new calculation method we described in a paper published on April 15, 2021 in the journal Science, reports The Conversation.
How Many Tyrannosaurus Rexes Ever Lived on Earth? Here’s a New Clue, reports The New York Times. An estimation of the iconic predator’s total population can teach us things about dinosaurs that fossils cannot.
Astronomers Peer Through the Fog at Milky Way’s Supermassive Black Hole –“Is It Emitting a Jet Angled Toward Earth?” reports Jackie Faherty for The Daily Galaxy –“In 2019 astronomers lifted the veil on the monster black hole called Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) at the heart of our Milky Way Galaxy. Using computer modelling, the scientists simulated the material inside the thick cloud of plasma, dust and gas surrounding Sgr A*. The results pointed to the possibility of a relativistic jet with an inclination that is aligned with Earth’s viewing point.”
Carbon dioxide levels are higher than they’ve been at any point in the last 3.6 million years, reports CBS News –“Carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane levels in the atmosphere continued to rise in 2020, with CO2 level reaching their highest point in 3.6 million years, according to calculations by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The barrier was broken despite a reduction in expected emissions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
A New State of Matter –“Black Hole Physics of Strange Metals” reports Jackie Faherty, astrophysicist, Senior Scientist with AMNH for The Daily Galaxy. Jackie was formerly a NASA Hubble Fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
The Future of American Radio Astronomy Now Depends on China, reports Sarah Scoles for The Atlantic.
Muons: ‘Strong’ evidence found for a new force of nature, reports The BBC –“All of the forces we experience every day can be reduced to just four categories: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong force and the weak force. Now, physicists say they have found possible signs of a fifth fundamental force of nature.”
Google’s New 3D Time-Lapse Feature Shows How Humans Are Affecting the Planet, reports Sam Rutherford for Gizmodo– “Described by Google Earth director Rebecca Moore as the biggest update to Google Earth since 2017, Timelapse in Google Earth combines more than 24 million satellite photos, two petabytes of data, and 2 million hours of CPU processing time to create a 4.4-terapixel interactive view showing how the Earth has changed from 1984 to 2020.”
The New Historian of the Smash That Made the Himalayas, reports Robin George Andrews for Quanta –“About 60 million years ago, India plowed into Eurasia and pushed up the Himalayas. But when Lucía Pérez-Díaz reconstructed the event in detail, she found that its central mystery depended on a broken geological clock.”
These Ants Shrink Their Brains for a Chance to Become Queen –If their bids at motherhood fail, they can then regrow their brains, reports Annie Roth for The New York Times.
Physicists have created a new and extremely rare kind of uranium, reports New Scientist–“Researchers have produced the lightest version of a uranium atom ever. It has only 122 neutrons compared with the 146 neutrons found in more than 99 per cent of the world’s naturally occurring uranium, which is known as uranium-238.”
New Genomic Study of Placenta Finds Deep Links to Cancer, reports Max Kozlov for Quanta –“A patchwork of genomic differences in the placenta may explain the organ’s “live fast, die young” strategy and its connections to cancer.”
The alphabet may have been invented 500 years earlier than we thought, reports New Scientist –“The early history of the alphabet may require rewriting. Four clay artefacts found at an ancient site in Syria are incised with what is potentially the earliest alphabetic writing ever found. The discovery suggests that the alphabet emerged 500 years earlier than we thought, and undermines leading ideas about how it was invented.”
The Genetic Mistakes That Could Shape Our Species, reports Zaria Gorvett for BBC Future –“New technologies may have already introduced genetic errors to the human gene pool. How long will they last? And how could they affect us?” He Jiankui with Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China …”had made the first genetically modified babies in the history of humankind. After 3.7 billion years of continuous, undisturbed evolution by natural selection, a life form had taken its innate biology into its own hands. The result was twin baby girls who were born with altered copies of a gene known as CCR5, which the scientist hoped would make them immune to HIV.”
How Radio Astronomy Reveals the Universe, reports Quanta–“Radio waves, longer and less energetic than visible light, give astronomers access to some of the most obscure physics in the cosmos.”
Geoffrey Hinton Has a Hunch About What’s Next for Artificial Intelligence, reports Siobhan Roberts for MIT Technology Review–“Back in November, the computer scientist and cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Hinton had a hunch. After a half-century’s worth of attempts—some wildly successful—he’d arrived at another promising insight into how the brain works and how to replicate its circuitry in a computer.”