“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.
Evolution: Lab-Grown ‘Mini Brains’ Suggest One Mutation Might Have Rewired the Human Mind, reports Singularity Hub –“By reintroducing ancient genes from such extinct species into human “mini brains”—clusters of stem cells grown in a lab that organize themselves into tiny versions of human brains—scientists have started to find new clues into how we humans became what we are today.
Yuval Harari on why humans won’t dominate Earth in 300 years –“It’s not because I overestimate the AI. It’s because most people tend to overestimate human beings,” reports Ezra Klein at VOX in a fascinating interview.
Counterintuitive –“Life Originated Independently Multiple Times on Earth as a New Form”, reports Avi Shporer, for The Daily Galaxy –““It could be that whatever theory we uncover to explain life may similarly have a counterintuitive foundation and lead to even more revolutionary ideas about how our universe works—after all, life is far more complex than gravitation,” said astrobiologist and theoretical physicist, Sara Walker, Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University.
The UN Climate Report: All Is Not Well—But All Is Not Lost reports Matt Simon for Wired– “Is it still possible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees? The answer is yes,’ [coauthor Maisa Rojas Corradi, the director of the Center for Climate and Resilience Research at the University of Chile] said. ‘But unless there are immediate, rapid, and large-scale reduction of all greenhouse gases, limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees will be beyond the reach.”
The Red Queen Phenomenon –“No One Species has an Advantage on a Planet Where 99% Have Gone Extinct”, reports Avi Shporer for The Daily Galaxy –““The fact that all organisms are nearly equally fit has profound implications for the evolution and persistence of life on Earth,” said James H. Brown, a physiological ecologist at the University of New Mexico, referring to a “New Evolutionary Law” proposed by evolutionary theorist and palaeobiology pioneer, Leigh Van Valen.”
Changing views on the age of planet Earth –We currently believe the age to be about 4.5bn years, reports Irish Times –“In 1650 the Earth was 4,654 years old. In 1864 it was 100 million years old. In 1897 the upper limit was revised to 40 million years. Currently we believe the age to be about 4.5 billion years. What will be the best guess in the year 2050?”
In 2020 Breakthrough Listen astronomers using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia saw a weird radio signal coming from Proxima Centauri, the star system closest to Earth. The signal behaves strangely, only using a narrow 982 MHz band typically not used by human-made spacecraft. It also does not correspond to known natural processes. The frequency moves around too…not what you’d expect from a planet.
A Secret to Healthy Aging May Be the Bugs in Your Microbiome, reports Singularity Hub –“This month, a Japanese study uncovered one piece of the secret to a group of Japanese centenarians had seemingly magical health powers. The key to their healthy longevity lies in their guts, or more specifically, in trillions of microbes thriving synergistically as their hosts gracefully age.”
Dreams Are More Real Than Anyone Thought –Waking reality and dreams are different versions of the same thing, reports Robert Lanza M.D., for Psychology Today.
Masks Are Back, Maybe for the Long Term –Some people can’t help but feel that masking while vaccinated is a regression—especially because this time, there’s no obvious off-ramp, reports Katherine Wu for The Atlantic.
Rewilding death: The plan to restore the necrobiome, reports BBC Future –In parts of Europe, plans to replenish the “necrobiome” may benefit wildlife from golden eagles and wolverines, to copious plants, fungi and insects.
Scientists Find Solar Systems Undergoing the Same Mysterious Process as Ours –A radioactive isotope profoundly affected the origin and evolution of our solar system. Now, scientists have spotted it in a system of budding stars, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice.
“The Hidden Signal” –Birth of Light in the Universe, reports Maxwell Moe for The Daily Galaxy. –“Thirteen billion years ago our universe was dark. There were neither stars nor galaxies; there was only hydrogen gas left over after the Big Bang. Eventually hydrogen atoms began to clump together to form stars—the very first ones to exist—initiating a major phase in the evolution of the universe, known as the Epoch of Reionization, or EoR.”
Black Hole Megastructures May Be Powering Alien Civilizations, Scientists Say –Dyson spheres encompassing around black holes could yield up to one million times more energy than those built around stars, according to a new study, reports Becky Ferreira for Motherboard/Vice.
This Brain Remained Intact in a 310 Million-Year-Old Fossil –The discovery suggested that horseshoe crab brains haven’t changed much and that there are more ways for soft tissues to be preserved in the fossil record, reports he New York Times.