This week’s news from our Pale Blue Dot ranges from Unfreezing the Ice Age to How a Nuclear Bomb Could Save Earth from a Stealth Asteroid. The “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.
Unfreezing the ice age: the truth about humanity’s deep past –Archaeological discoveries are shattering scholars’ long-held beliefs about how the earliest humans organized their societies – and hint at possibilities for our own, reports The Guardian.
The Earth Is Inside an Enormous Cosmic Tunnel, New Research Proposes. The new model proposes a filament-like magnetic tunnel encompassing the entire solar system, explaining two mysterious features of the sky, reports Audrey Carleton for Motherboard/Vice.
The Point of No Return -Scientists Compare Current Climate Change to Geologic Past, reports The Daily Galaxy –“All of the species on Earth today had an ancestor that survived the Eocene and the Pliocene, but whether humans and the flora and fauna we are familiar with can adapt to these rapid changes remains to be seen. The accelerated rate of change appears to be faster than anything life on the planet has experienced before.”
How a Nuclear Bomb Could Save Earth From a Stealthy Asteroid –An atomic blast is not the preferred solution for planetary defense, but 3-D models are helping scientists prepare for a worst-case scenario, reports the New York Times.
Contemplating the End of Physics –Has physics reached the limits of what we can discover — or are the possibilities only just beginning? asks Robbert Dijkgraaf for Quanta. “The 21st century is often called the age of biology. Or artificial intelligence. Or any other emerging field. This relegates physics to the previous century — the golden days when the revolutions of relativity and quantum mechanics shook the world, and the discoveries of elementary particles led to a string of Nobel Prizes. Nowadays, people worry about a “desert scenario,” where no new particles will be found for many decades to come, if ever.”
Is Information the Fifth State of Matter in the Universe? asks The Daily Galaxy.–““Information,” wrote Arizona State University astrophysicist Paul Davies in an email to The Daily Galaxy, “is a concept that is both abstract and mathematical. It lies at the foundation of both biology and physics.”
Scientists Detect Radio Signals From Galaxy’s Center, Have No Clue What It Is –“It seems different to all types of astronomical objects we know, it may be a new type of object,” said the study’s lead author, reports Audrey Carleton.
Neuroscience Weighs in on Physics’ Biggest Questions –A theory of consciousness can help build a theory of everything, reports George Musser for Nautilus. “A purely atomic explanation of behavior may be just that: an explanation of what atoms do. It would say nothing about brains, much less minds.”
Tuskless elephants became common as an evolutionary response to poachers –Gorongosa National Park’s elephants bear the physical consequences of poaching’s legacy, reports Science News.
Humans did not cause woolly mammoths to go extinct—climate change did: reports study by University of Cambridge. “For five million years, woolly mammoths roamed the earth until they vanished for good nearly 4,000 years ago—and scientists have finally proved why.”
Earth Tipped on Its Side 84 Million Years Ago, New Evidence Suggests, reports Science Alert–“A new study presents evidence of one such tilting event that occurred around 84 million years ago – when dinosaurs still walked the Earth.”
The Mystery of Why Our Ancestors Left Africa –An enduring scientific debate is about humanity’s past—and its future.
Biologist’s new book explores how humans have shaped life on Earth –In her new book, UC Santa Cruz biologist Beth Shapiro argues that while gene-editing technology is giving humans remarkable new powers, we have been manipulating other species for as long as we have existed, reports Phys.org
We Are Beast Machines –-We understand conscious experiences only in light of our nature as living creatures, reports Anil Seth for Nautilus.
Latest Results From CERN Boost Tantalizing Evidence for New Physics, reports The Conversation. “The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) sparked worldwide excitement in March as particle physicists reported tantalizing evidence for new physics – potentially a new force of nature. Now, our new result, yet to be peer reviewed, from Cern’s gargantuan particle collider seems to be adding further support to the idea.”
On a Pacific Island, Russia Tests Its Battle Plan for Climate Change –President Vladimir V. Putin long dismissed the threat posed by global warming. But fires, disasters and foreign pressure have prompted him to change course.
See How the Dixie Fire Created Its Own Weather –This year’s largest blaze generated powerful storm clouds. We show you in dramatic 3-D, reports The New York Times.
The Key Insight That Defined 50 Years of Climate Science–A climate scientist has won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the first time. It’s a reminder that the field, which emerged from the mid-20th century’s biggest questions, hasn’t always been fraught.
What Does the Future Hold for the Joshua Tree?–The beloved desert denizen is feeling the heat, reports The Smithsonian. “Now completely arid, the land cradling the park once contained grasslands where mammoths and saber-toothed cats roamed; during the last ice age, giant ground sloths fed on Joshua trees, dispersing their seeds.”
AI-Savvy Criminals Pulled Off a $35 Million Deepfake Bank Heist, reports Singularity Hub –“An article published last week by Forbes revealed that a group of cybercriminals in the United Arab Emirates used deepfake technology as part of a bank heist that transferred a total of $35 million out of the country and into accounts all over the world.”
A Hint of Dark Matter Sends Physicists Looking to the Skies –After a search of neutron stars finds preliminary evidence for hypothetical dark matter particles called axions, astrophysicists are devising new ways to spot them, reports Quanta.
How does wildfire smoke affect wildlife? Here’s what we know. –As climate change makes wildfires more frequent, scientists are racing to understand how animals suffer, reports National Geographic.
In a First, Surgeons Attached a Pig Kidney to a Human — and It Worked. A kidney grown in a genetically altered pig seemed to function normally, potentially a new source for desperately needed transplant organs, reports The New York Times.
Archaeologists in Israel Unearth Only Known Crusader Encampment –Frankish soldiers camped at the site before the 1187 Battle of Hattin, which ended in a decisive victory for Muslim sultan Saladin, reports David Kindy for The Smithsonian.