“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 multi-billion dollar giants that are melting away –Billions of people around the world depend on the waters locked away in glaciers for their livelihoods, power and food. But climate change is melting them away. What might we lose if they disappear? asks BBC Future.
How to unravel hidden mysteries of the universe? This India born physicist has an ambitious plan –Dr Karan Jani, an astrophysicist with Vanderbilt University, has proposed setting up a gravitational wave infrastructure on the Moon to look deep into the workings of the universe, reports India Today.
Faraway Planets Don’t Seem So Distant Anymore –Astronomers are stepping up their attempts to unravel the mysteries of exoplanets. Reports Marina Koren for The Atlantic.
One of the Ocean’s Biggest Threats Is Still Mostly a Mystery –There are major gaps in our understanding of invasive species, reports The Atlantic. “The first signs of trouble came in the mid-2000s. A strikingly beautiful, highly venomous animal called the lionfish—first spotted outside its native range in the Indo-Pacific in the 1980s—seemed to be in every reef, mangrove forest, and seagrass meadow in the Caribbean. The fish quickly became the face of what the International Union for Conservation of Nature has called “arguably the most insidious threat” to marine biodiversity: invasive species.”
World Mourns Death of World-Renowned Physicist Steven Weinberg –“The Nobel laureate a professor of physics and astronomy at The University of Texas at Austin, has died. He was 88. “One of the most celebrated scientists of his generation, Weinberg was best known for helping to develop a critical part of the Standard Model of particle physics, which significantly advanced humanity’s understanding of how everything in the universe — its various particles and the forces that govern them — relate.”
How Steven Weinberg Transformed Physics and Physicists –When Steven Weinberg died last month, the world lost one of its most profound thinkers, reports Institute for Advanced Study Nima Arkani-Hamed for Quanta. “The themes of unification and symmetry drove all of Weinberg’s work and led to his famous breakthrough on electroweak unification, which revealed a hidden unity between two of the universe’s four fundamental forces.”
NASA Says an Asteroid Will Have a Close Brush With Earth. But Not Until the 2100s. –Scientists have improved their forecast of the orbital path of Bennu, a space rock the size of the Empire State Building that was visited by the OSIRIS-REX spacecraft, reports The New York Times Science.
“Almost Three Times as Old as Earth”–Oldest Planet in Our Milky Way Galaxy, reports The Daily Galaxy –““In 2003 we derived the properties of a planet that was orbiting a white dwarf star and a neutron star binary near the core of the ancient globular star cluster M4, located 5,600 light-years away in the summer constellation Scorpius using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, precisely measuring the mass of the oldest known planet in our Milky Way galaxy, astrophysicist Harvey Richer told The Daily Galaxy. At an estimated age of 13 billion years, the planet is more than twice as old as Earth’s 4.5 billion years.
When Will We Hear from Extraterrestrials? –Project Galileo could make that happen sooner rather than later, reports Scientific American.
UFO Mania Is Out of Control. Please Stop. –Sorry to disappoint you, this science writer says, but there’s zero evidence of aliens, reports Joel Achenbach for Washington Post Magazine.
The ‘baffling’ thing about UFO tech that has security experts worried –The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report into unidentified aerial phenomena — or UFOs — highlights what could be possible threats to US airspace. Former intelligence and security officials help break down how UFOs pose a national security risk, reports CNN.
20 new, previously unidentified galaxies –A team of scientists representing three South African universities, including the University of Cape Town (UCT), were pleasantly surprised when their usual studies of the sky revealed a rather unusual find.
Are Delta Symptoms Different? asks the New York Times –“We asked experts to describe the most prevalent symptoms they’re seeing right now among people with Covid-19. The Delta variant is nearly twice as contagious as prior variants and just as contagious as chickenpox. It replicates rapidly in the body, and people carry large amounts of the virus in their nose and throat.”
How do vaccinated people spread Delta? What the science says –reports Nature. “Data from COVID-19 tests in the United States, the United Kingdom and Singapore are showing that vaccinated people who become infected with Delta SARS-CoV-2 can carry as much virus in their nose as do unvaccinated people. This means that despite the protection offered by vaccines, a proportion of vaccinated people can pass on Delta, possibly aiding its rise.”
What the heck is a time crystal, and why are physicists obsessed with them? –-Some of today’s quantum physicists are tinkering with an esoteric phase of matter that seems to disobey some of our laws of physics, reports Popular Science.
NASA’s first Mars sample appears to have crumbled to bits –Perseverance’s first sample attempt came up empty—but the rover is already on its way to a new location to try again, reports National Geographic.
Physicists Create a Bizarre ‘Wigner Crystal’ Made Purely of Electrons, reports Karmela Padavic-Callaghan for Quanta–“In 1934, Eugene Wigner, a pioneer of quantum mechanics, theorized a strange kind of matter—a crystal made from electrons. …Physicists tried many tricks over eight decades to nudge electrons into forming these so-called Wigner crystals, with limited success. In June, however, two independent groups of physicists reported in Nature the most direct experimental observations of Wigner crystals yet.”
Our Planet’s Changing Orbit Helped Life Survive ‘Snowball Earth’--Iron-rich rock layers deposited during Earth’s most extreme ice ages could explain how oxygen persisted in oceans, reports Discover.
This Is Why the Asteroid Psyche 16 Is Worth More Than the Entire Global Economy of Planet Earth –Scientists believed that the asteroid Psyche 16 was a body with no monetary value, but new research indicates that it is far richer than Earth, reports Entrepreneur.
The Race to Leave Planet Earth –Not just billionaires but private companies and a growing number of nations are, somewhat abruptly, competing to get into space, reports Amy Davidson Sorkin for The New Yorker.
What Does It Mean for a Whole Nation to Become Uninhabitable? asks Devi Lockwood who spent five years traveling the globe talking to people about changes they were seeing to their local water and climates. Here are some of the stories she heard for The New York Times.
Woolly mammoth walked far enough to circle Earth twice, study finds –-Research into life of Kik adds weight to theory that climate change could have contributed to species’ demise. “He was huge, hairy and boasted two enormous tusks: researchers say they have discovered a woolly mammoth called Kik who traipsed almost far enough in his life to circle the Earth twice, reports The Guardian
Shape-shifting fish that confounded scientists for 100 years spotted off California coast, reports Ben Turner for LiveScience–The whalefish’s body changes dramatically across its lifespan.
Shining Light on the Dark Matter of Biology, reports Caltech –“Researchers may have a broad understanding about the biology and chemistry of cells, but there is much that they do not know. For example, while many of the functions that keep cells alive and ticking are conducted by proteins with clearly defined shapes, many other functions are governed by a structureless class of proteins known as intrinsically disordered regions.”
Untangling mysteries of the brain—with the remarkable biology of squid –Squid’s giant nerve fibers have been essential to research for decades. Now breakthroughs in editing squid genomes could lead to a more complete understanding of nervous systems in general, reports National Geographic.
July 2021 was Earth’s hottest month ever recorded, NOAA finds, reports The Washington Post –“In this case, first place is the worst place to be,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “This new record adds to the disturbing and disruptive path that climate change has set for the globe.”