“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 Largest Comet Ever Found Is Making Its Move Into a Sky Near You –By 2031, you may be able to spot the icy object in night skies with a good telescope, reports The New York Times. “One of its discoverers, Pedro Bernardinelli, an astrophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania, conservatively estimates the object’s dusty, icy nucleus is between 62 and 125 miles long. That means this comet is as small as five Manhattan Islands, or it’s larger than the Island of Hawaii.”
‘There may not be a conflict after all in expanding universe debate”, reports the University of Chicago –“There may not be a conflict after all, and our standard model of the universe does not need to be significantly modified.”
UFOs Emerge, Again –Beyond the talk and fantastical conspiracy theories there might actually be a silver lining in trying to solve the puzzle of unidentified flying objects, reports Columbia University. “Perhaps the most damning evidence that UFOs are not alien technology is that their qualities—such as their extraordinary apparent velocities and movements—would disobey all known laws of physics and aeronautics. In science that’s a leap of ridiculous proportions. Time and time again we’ve found that each new layer in our understanding of nature is broadly compatible with the previous layer, just more complete and more accurate.”
“A Perilous Journey” –Our Solar System Has Completed 20 Orbits of the Milky Way— The last time the sun was at that exact spot of its galactic orbit, Tyrannosaurus rex ruled the Earth, reports The Daily Galaxy.
That Heat Dome? Yeah, It’s Climate Change, reports the New York Times –” Yhis is not your grandparents’ climate. And though we’re only one week into official summer, the characteristically cool Pacific Northwest has turned into a caldron of triple-digit temperatures, with Portland, Ore., and Seattle reaching record highs of 115 and 108 degrees, respectively. That’s unseasonably hot — for Phoenix.”
Brighter Than a Billion Billion Suns: Gamma-Ray Bursts Continue to Surprise –These ultrabright flashes have recently been tracked for days, upending ideas about the cataclysms that create them, reports Quanta.
Concrete: The material that’s ‘too vast to imagine’ –reports BBC Future. “There is so much concrete in the world that soon it will outweigh all living matter – including us. In the latest in our Anthropo-Scene series, we explore the material’s global reach, occasional beauty, and unimaginable scale.”
“Could Advanced Life in Near-By Star Systems Have Observed Earth Over the Eons?” asks The Daily Galaxy. “We know that most stars formed billions of years before the Sun, and we are sampling them at different times in the history of their habitable planets. If our circumstances on Earth are typical (which is a good assumption since it is the only example we have), then one needs to search through tens of millions of stars before finding one that will host a civilization that developed transit or radio technology.”
Why No One Is Sure If Delta Is Deadlier –The variants are spreading faster, but they don’t necessarily have incentive to kill more often, reports The Atlantic. “The coronavirus is on a serious self-improvement kick. Since infiltrating the human population, SARS-CoV-2 has splintered into hundreds of lineages, with some seeding new, fast-spreading variants. A more infectious version first overtook the OG coronavirus last spring, before giving way to the ultra-transmissible Alpha (B.1.1.7) variant. Now Delta (B.1.617.2), potentially the most contagious contender to date, is poised to usurp the global throne.”
Dinosaurs were in decline before the end, reports the University of Bristol –“The death of the dinosaurs 66 million years ago was caused by the impact of a huge asteroid on the Earth. However, palaeontologists have continued to debate whether they were already in decline for more than 10 million years.”
Rattlesnakes May Like Climate Change –reports Cal Poly Study. “Rattlers are experts at thermoregulation. Researchers found that, when given a choice, the snakes prefer a body temperature of 86-89 degrees Fahrenheit, a much warmer temperature than they generally experience in nature.”
Scientists have identified a new contender for “patient zero” in the plague that caused the Black Death –A man who died more than 5,000 years ago in Latvia was infected with the earliest-known strain of the disease, according to new evidence, reports The BBC.
A Massive Lake Suddenly Vanished In Antarctica, Scientists Discover –A lake twice the volume of San Diego Bay disappeared within three days, a finding that could have implications for understanding climate change in Antarctica, reports Motherboard Vice.
The 7 primes of life: Why each decade comes with its own superpowers –You might think we peak in our 20s or 30s before enduring a slow decline, but each era of our lives brings new strengths – even old age. Here’s how to make the most of them, reports New Scientist.
NASA’s most accurate atomic clock will be tested on a mission to Venus, reports New Scientist –“A toaster-sized atomic clock orbiting Earth has maintained accuracy 25 times higher than existing space clocks, and it will soon be tested on a mission to Venus. The highly accurate timepiece could improve navigation for deep space missions.”
Scientists Discover ‘Time Cells’ In the Brain That Enable ‘Mental Time Travel’ –A new experiment probed how the human brain encodes and processes the flow of time, reports Motherboard Vice.
Fermi Paradox: Here’s What an Alien Civilization Settling the Galaxy Looks Like, reports Singularity Hub –“According to a recent addition to the Fermi debate, space and speed are no barrier to galactic empire—even without fancy tech like warp drives. A 2019 paper, authored by Penn State and University of Rochester astronomers Jonathan Carroll-Nellenback, Adam Frank, Jason Wright, and Caleb Scharf, laid out an intricate model of galactic settlement, including the motion of stars, the fraction of habitable systems, the speed and range of ships, and other factors.”
35 Innovators Under 35, reports MIT Technology Review –“Meet this year’s 35 brilliant young entrepreneurs, inventors, visionaries, humanitarians and pioneers who are working to make the world a better place.”
See the Face of a Man Whose Skull Was Mounted on a Stake 8,000 Years Ago –” A forensic artist used 3-D scans of the hunter-gatherer’s cranium to envision what he may have looked like in lifeSome 8,000 years ago, the skull of a Scandinavian man in his 50s was impaled on a wooden stake in Sweden. Now, a new facial reconstruction by Swedish forensic artist Oscar Nilsson allows modern viewers to envision this mysterious individual’s prominent cheekbones, blue eyes and brown hair, reports Kristin Romey for National Geographic.”
Your free twice-weekly fix of stories of space and science –a random journey from Planet Earth through the Cosmos– that has the capacity to provide clues to our existence and add a much needed cosmic perspective in our Anthropocene epoch.