Today’s stories range from How artificial intelligence can help us figure out how life began to Humans might even be evolving faster than ever to Staggering ecological impacts of computation and the cloud, and much more. 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.
A Deepening Crisis Forces Physicists to Rethink Structure of Nature’s Laws – “Perhaps there’s a multiverse of universes, all with randomly dialed Higgs masses and other parameters, and we find ourselves here only because our universe’s peculiar properties foster the formation of atoms, stars and planets and there therefor life’ reports Natalie Wolchover for Quanta..”
How artificial intelligence can help us figure out how life began –How inanimate molecules first arranged themselves into life is one of the great mysteries. The answer could lie in a systematic exploration of chemical space, reports New Scientist. “If you drill right down to the heart of this question, you reach a bedrock of chemistry. How did a selection of inanimate molecules start joining together and replicating themselves?”
Apple Will Stop Selling Products in Russia –The tech giant will, for now, stop selling its iPhones in Russia because of the war in Ukraine, reports Motherboard/Vice.
How China built a one-of-a-kind cyber-espionage behemoth to last –A decade-long quest to become a cyber superpower is paying off for China, reports MIT Technology Review. “The “most advanced piece of malware” that China-linked hackers have ever been known to use was revealed today. Dubbed Daxin, the stealthy back door was used in espionage operations against governments around the world for a decade before it was caught.
How Will Humans Change in the Next 10,000 Years? reports Nicholas R. Longrich for The Conversation. ” Evolution won’t stop with us, and we might even be evolving faster than ever.”
Will true AI turn against us? –-Will AI become an existential threat to humans? asks Big Think. “Will AI ever actually achieve true general intelligence? Will AI steal all of our jobs? Can AI ever become conscious? Could AI have free will? Nobody knows, but a good place to start thinking about these issues is here.”
Stephen Hawking’s Warning –“Treating AI as Science Fiction Would Potentially Be Our Worst Mistake Ever”. “We should plan ahead,” warned physicist Stephen Hawking who died March, 2018, and was buried next to Isaac Newton. “If a superior alien civilization sent us a text message saying, ‘We’ll arrive in a few decades,’ would we just reply, ‘OK, call us when you get here, we’ll leave the lights on’? Probably not, but this is more or less what has happened with AI,” reports The Daily Galaxy.
The Staggering Ecological Impacts of Computation and the Cloud. The cloud is not only material but also an ecological force, reports Steven Gonzalez Monserrate for Scientific American.
What science still doesn’t know about the five senses –-Our senses create our reality. They can trick us, but also teach us, reports Vox.com.”In the 1970s, psychologist Diana Deutsch discovered an audio illusion that made her feel like her brain was a little bit broken. “It seemed to me that I’d entered another universe or I’d gone crazy or something … the world had just turned upside down!” Deutsch recalls.
They Want to Break T. Rex Into 3 Species. Other Paleontologists Aren’t Pleased. –The premise, put forth in a new paper, highlights an assortment of tensions in dinosaur paleontology, including how subjective the naming of species can be, reports The New York Times. “The premise, put forth in a new paper, highlights an assortment of tensions in dinosaur paleontology, including how subjective the naming of species can be. “This paper is likely to rock the paleo community, and the public that is so used to good old T. rex,” said Gregory Paul, an independent paleontologist and paleoartist and author on the paper.”
Scientists uncover the largest crater on Earth under 100,000 years old. The impact crater is the second discovered in China, reports Live Science. A crescent-shaped crater in Northeast China holds the record as the largest impact crater on Earth that formed in the last 100,000 years.
Stonehenge may have been a giant calendar and now we know how it works. “The sarsen stones of the Stonehenge monument could have been designed as a calendar to track a solar year, with each of the stones in the large sarsen circle representing a day within a month,” reports New Scientist.
Map of whale migration “superhighways” might help save them from extinction –The world’s great whales aren’t just vulnerable where they congregate, but everywhere they roam, reports Big Think. “If you are a Viking bard, “whale-road” is what you could call the sea. It turns out there is some truth to that poetic turn of phrase. The world’s various whale populations follow very specific routes on their annual migrations — though by the scale of them, they are not so much whale roads as whale superhighways,” reports Frank Jacobs for Big Think.
Did astronomers see hints of first stars? Experiment casts doubt on bold claim –Radio astronomers suggest that a signal reported to be from the cosmic dawn could have been caused by instrument error, reports Nature.
How Life (and Death) Spring From Disorder –Life was long thought to obey its own set of rules. But as simple systems show signs of lifelike behavior, scientists are arguing about whether this apparent complexity is all a consequence of thermodynamics, reports Philip Ball for Quanta.
Physicists in Earth’s remotest corners race to reproduce ‘cosmic dawn’ signal. Teams rush to capture faint radiation from Universe’s first stars, while theorists seek to explain puzzling observations, reported Davide Castelvecchi in 2018 for Nature.
Most Complete Simulation of a Cell Probes Life’s Hidden Rules –A 3D digital model of a “minimal cell” leads scientists closer to understanding the barest requirements for life, reports Quanta.
The Black Death Wasn’t as Deadly as Previously Thought, Research Suggests –Ancient pollen deposits reveal that some areas of Europe may have experienced a ‘much lighter touch’ of the disease, according to the study, reports Jane Recker for The Smithsonian.
New Brain Map Charts Every Component in the Biological Universe, reports Singularity Hub. “Nestled inside the brain’s wiring diagrams are the keys to consciousness, memories, and emotion. To connectomics, mapping the brain isn’t just an academic exercise to better understand ourselves—it could lead to more efficient AI that thinks like us.”
Ingenious System to Pulverize Asteroids May Be Earth’s Only Chance in a Catastrophe, reports Science Alert. “Professor Philip Lubin from the University of California Santa Barbara is developing his idea called PI-Terminal Defense for Humanity. The PI stands for Pulverize It, and Lubin thinks pulverizing an incoming impactor into tiny pieces is our best bet to protect ourselves from an asteroid on short notice.
Augmented Intelligence: What it is and why it will be smarter than AI –Why are we working so hard to make computers that compute better, when we could be using computers to help us think and act better? reports BBC Science Focus. “As artificial intelligence and robotics mature enough to become integrated into everyday life, we need to start making this choice. We need to choose wisely, or we might just automate ourselves and the natural world out of existence.”
How Sitting Bull’s Fight for Indigenous Land Rights Shaped the Creation of Yellowstone National Park. The 1872 act that established the nature preserve provoked Lakota assertions of sovereignty, reports Megan Kate Nelson for The Smithsonian.
Scientists seek to solve mystery of why some people do not catch Covid –Experts hope research can lead to development of drugs that stop people catching Covid or passing it on, reports The Guardian.
Stunning satellite image shows immense power of monster 7-story waves in Portugal. An 18-year-old surfer rode a record-breaking 101-foot-wave on the day this image was taken, reports Live Science.