What Makes the Human Brain Unique to How Quantum Physicists are Looking for Alien Life (Planet Earth Report)

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Today’s stories include Quantum Theory of Consciousness Challenged to Is Life on Earth the ‘Standard Model’ for the Universe to The 50 Million-Year-Old Treasures of Fossil Lake, and much more. 

What makes the human brain different? Yale study reveals clues –“What makes the human brain distinct from that of all other animals — including even our closest primate relatives? In an analysis of cell types in the prefrontal cortex of four primate species, Yale researchers identified species-specific — particularly human-specific — features, they report Aug. 25 in the journal Science.”

Seven Million Years Ago, the Oldest Known Early Human Was Already Walking, reports The Smithsonian. Analysis of a femur fossil indicates that a key species could already move somewhat like us.

Extraterrestrial Life –Is Earth the ‘Standard Model’ for the Universe? asks The Daily Galaxy. “By the end of this century, says astrophysicist Martin Rees, we should be able to ask whether or not we live in a multiverse, and how much variety of the laws of physics its constituent ‘universes’ display. The answer to this question, says Rees, “will determine how we should interpret the ‘biofriendly’ universe in which we live (sharing it with any aliens with whom we might one day make contact).”

Unfathomable Abodes of Life? –Water Worlds of the Milky Way–“Before life appeared on land some 400 million years ago, all life on Earth including the mind evolved in the sea. Astronomers have recently conjectured that blue exoplanets with endless oceans may be orbiting many of the Milky Way’s one trillion stars,” reports The Daily Galaxy.

What Drives Galaxies? The Milky Way’s Black Hole May Be the Key--“What Drives Galaxies? The Milky Way’s Black Hole May Be the Key. Supermassive black holes have come to the fore as engines of galactic evolution, but new observations of the Milky Way and its central hole don’t yet hang together,” reports Quanta.

Quantum theory of consciousness put in doubt by underground experiment, reports Physics World. “A controversial theory put forward by physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff that posits consciousness to be a fundamentally quantum-mechanical phenomenon has been challenged by research looking at the role of gravity in the collapse of quantum wavefunctions.”

How quantum physicists are looking for life on exoplanets, reports Northeastern University. “News@Northeastern spoke to Gregory Fiete, a physics professor at Northeastern, about some of the broad applications of quantum research, from developing renewable energy sources and building more powerful computers, to advancing humanity’s quest to discover life beyond the solar system.”

The Plan to Look for Life on Venus—Without NASA--A private group of scientists and rocket engineers might be the first to find signs of extraterrestrial life on the second planet from the sun, reports The Daily Beast.

After Millennia of Agricultural Expansion, the World Has Passed ‘Peak Agricultural Land’, reports Dr. Hannah Ritchie for Singularity Hub–“Humans have been reshaping the planet’s land for millennia by clearing wildlands to grow crops and raise livestock. As a result, humans have cleared one-third of the world’s forests and two-thirds of wild grasslands since the end of the last ice age.”

The 50 Million-Year-Old Treasures of Fossil Lake –In a forbidding Wyoming desert, scientists and fortune hunters search for the surprisingly intact remains of horses and other creatures that lived long ago, reports The Smithsonian..

Drought Exposes Dinosaur Tracks in Texas--The 113-million-year-old footprints were largely made by the carnivorous Acrocanthosaurus, reports The Smithsonian. “A severe drought in Texas has revealed 113-million-year-old dinosaur tracks in Dinosaur Valley State Park. The prints are usually covered by the Paluxy River—the last time they were visible was in the year 2000, according to BBC News.” 

Doppelgängers Don’t Just Look Alike—They Also Share DNA–New research finds genetic and lifestyle similarities between unrelated pairs of “virtual twins”, reports the Smithsonian. People with very similar faces also share many of the same genes and lifestyle traits, according to a new paper published Tuesday in the journal Cell Reports.

Shape of human brain has barely changed in past 160,000 years –An analysis of fossils suggests changes in the shape of the braincase during human evolution were linked to alterations in the face, rather than changes in the brain itself, reports New Scientist.

Humanity Is ‘Woefully Unprepared’ for a Major Volcanic Eruption, reports Gizmodo. “When the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted in Tonga on January 15, the result was devastation. The eruption literally blew up an island, caused mass flooding in the surrounding areas, coated whole communities in a thick layer of ash, and took out telecommunications for weeks. Yet in that eruption, we got lucky, according to a new commentary article .”

Scientists discovered a 5 million-year-old time capsule buried in Antarctica--It’s an ice core with bubbles containing remains of ancient Earth atmosphere, reports ZME Science.

When will China’s population peak? It depends who you ask--Data show the country is facing a demographic crisis, with an aging population and young couples having fewer children, reports Nature.

MIT professor wrongfully accused of spying for China helps make a major discovery –Gang Chen, who was cleared after a lengthy DOJ investigation, said he is stepping away from federally funded research because of anxieties around being racially profiled, reports NBC.

Reconstructing ice age diets reveals an unraveling web of life–“While about 6% of land mammals have gone extinct in that time, we estimate that more than 50% of mammal food web links have disappeared,” said ecologist Evan Fricke, lead author of the study. “And the mammals most likely to decline, both in the past and now, are key for mammal food web complexity,” reports Rice University.

Why Thinking Hard Wears You Out–Concentrating for long periods builds up chemicals that disrupt brain functioning, reports Scientific American.

Tiny Caribbean crustaceans and their bioluminescent mating displays are shining new light on evolution, reports Science. “No bigger than a grain of sand, ostracods abound in fresh and saltwater. “They are very cute but also sort of bizarre—like a cross between a crab and a tiny spaceship,” says Timothy Fallon, an evolutionary biochemist at the University of California (UC), San Diego.”

The Biggest Offshore Wind Farm in the World Will Be Fully Online This Month, reports Singularity Hub. “A massive offshore wind project has been underway off the coast of England for over four years. Construction of Hornsea One started in January 2018, and generated its first power a year and a half later. Meanwhile, construction of neighboring Hornsea Two got underway, with that site first coming online last December.”

Eye movements in REM sleep mimic gazes in the dream world, reports the University of California, San Francisco. “When our eyes move during REM sleep, we’re gazing at things in the dream world our brains have created, according to a new study by researchers at UC San Francisco. The findings shed light not only into how we dream, but also into how our imaginations work.”

Curated by The Daily Galaxy Editorial Staff

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