This week’s news from Planet Earth asks if other human-like civilizations are unlikely to exist, could there exist other forms of life – perhaps better suited than us to spread in the cosmos to when did we become fully human to when will the first human child be born in space?
Transcendence Happens All the Time –We’ve long fantasized about transformations from one mode of life to another, but nature has already beaten us to it, reports Caleb Scharf for Scientific American
If other human-like civilizations are unlikely to exist, could there exist other forms of life – perhaps better suited than us to spread in the cosmos? asks The Conversation. “And would it be possible for such lifeforms to communicate with each other (non-human Seti)? Our new study, published in Biosystems, suggests it would. Microbes, such as bacteria, may be rulers of the cosmic life – and they are a lot more intelligent than we give them credit for. Indeed, we show how microbes could mimic the Seti program without human interference.”
When Did We Become Fully Human? What Fossils and DNA Tell Us About the Evolution of Modern Intelligence, reports Singularity Hub. –“When did something like us first appear on the planet? It turns out there’s remarkably little agreement on this question. Fossils and DNA suggest people looking like us, anatomically modern Homo sapiens, evolved around 300,000 years ago. Surprisingly, archaeology—tools, artifacts, cave art—suggest that complex technology and cultures, “behavioral modernity,” evolved more recently: 50,000 to 65,000 years ago.”
Radioactivity May Fuel Life Deep Underground and Inside Other Worlds, reports Quanta –New work suggests that the radiolytic splitting of water supports giant subsurface ecosystems of life on Earth — and could do it elsewhere, too.
Scientists find molecular patterns that may help identify extraterrestrial life — Upcoming Solar System exploration missions will search for extraterrestrial (ET) life, but ET life may not be like Earth life; a new mass spectrometry analysis technique may allow for process-based ways to find ET life that is compositionally alien, reports Tokyo Institute of Technology.
“Rediscovering Venus” –NASA’s New Missions to Discover if Venus was the First Habitable Planet in the Solar System, reports The Daily Galaxy.–“Was Venus the first habitable planet in the Solar System? NASA intends to find out. “It is astounding how little we know about Venus, but the combined results of these missions will tell us about the planet from the clouds in its sky through the volcanoes on its surface all the way down to its very core,” said Tom Wagner, NASA’s Discovery Program scientist about NASA’s JPL designing two missions to survive the planet’s extreme temperatures and atmospheric pressure. “It will be as if we have rediscovered the planet.”
Shape-shifting computer chip thwarts an army of hackers –Resaechers have developed and tested a secure new computer processor that thwarts hackers by randomly changing its underlying structure, thus making it virtually impossible to hack.
US intelligence officials have no evidence confirming Navy pilot UFO encounters were alien spacecraft, reports CNN.. “US intelligence officials have found no evidence confirming that unidentified flying objects encountered by US Navy pilots in recent years were alien spacecraft but also have not reached a definitive assessment as to what these mysterious objects might be, according to five sources familiar with the findings of an upcoming report on UFOs that is expected to be delivered to Congress later this month. According to three of those sources, the report does not however rule out the possibility they are alien spacecraft.
Time to Give Up on Consciousness as the ‘Ghost in the Machine’? asks The Conversation. Science has not yet reached a consensus on the nature of consciousness – which has important implications for our belief in free will and our approach to the study of the human mind.
Could you live to 150? –A new method to determine biological age suggests a maximum human lifespan. “A research team from Singapore-based biotech company Gero drew on longitudinal human blood count data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and UK Biobank. This resulted in a single variable to describe biological age, called the dynamic organism state indicator (DOSI).”
China military uses AI to track rapidly increasing UFOs, reports South China Morning News –To the People’s Liberation Army they are ‘unidentified air conditions’ and artificial intelligence is the best way to keep up with them. Chinese researchers confirm that sighting reports from across the country are on the rise but aliens are unlikely to be responsible.
To What Extent Are We Ruled by Unconscious Forces? asks Singularity Hub, –“Why did you buy your car? Why did you fall in love with your partner? When we start to examine the basis of our life choices, whether they are important or fairly simple ones, we might come to the realization that we don’t have much of a clue. In fact, we might even wonder whether we really know our own mind, and what goes on in it outside of our conscious awareness.”
What’s the Origin of Consciousness? Global Effort Puts Two Top Theories to the Test, reports Singularity Hub. –Six different teams from across the globe are uniting in a challenge to test our fundamental theories of consciousness. They don’t agree on where or how consciousness originates in the brain. But they’re willing to battle it out through a fair match.
On the Verge of Extinction, These Whales Are Also Shrinking –The few living North Atlantic right whales are smaller than previous generations, and some show signs of severely stunted development, reports The New York Times.
Sharks Almost Went the Way of the Dinosaurs 19 Million Years Ago, reports The New York Times. Analysis of the fossil record shows a mysterious mass extinction that decimated the diversity of sharks in the world’s oceans, and they’ve never fully recovered.
When Will the First Baby Be Born in Space? asks Singularity Hub. –When the first baby is born off-Earth, it will be a milestone as momentous as humanity’s first steps out of Africa. Such a birth would mark the beginning of a multi–planet civilization for the human species.