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Home » Science News » Microbial Time Capsules of Ancient Earth to ‘Consciousness’ in Robots No Longer Taboo? (The Planet Earth Report)
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This Weekend’s stories include What’s on the Horizon for 2023 to The defining problem in the search for ET to A Strange ‘Mini Moon’ Asteroid Orbiting Earth, and much more.

The science events to watch for in 2023–Moon landings, mRNA vaccines and climate finance are among the developments set to shape research in the coming year, reports Nature.
What’s on the Horizon for 2023–Scientific American editors share what scientific events they are paying attention to as 2023 begins. “In 2022 we covered both inspiring and disturbing news—exquisite images from space telescopes, massively reduced reproductive rights in the U.S., efforts to dismantle environmental regulation, a war that laid bare our energy co-dependencies, a Nobel Prize for our Neandertal ancestry, and much more. Here’s some of what we’re paying attention to as 2023 arrives.
Will We Know Alien Life When We See It?–The defining problem in the search for ET, reports Conor Feehly for Nautilus.com–“Stars themselves could meet the criteria to be considered life. A group of scientists, affiliated with NASA, SETI, and universities around the world, outlined a way forward in astrobiological research. They wrote ‘the probability that life in the universe would share a biochemical ancestry with life on Earth quickly diminishes the further away from Earth we explore.’”
Diving for Microbial Time Capsules of Ancient Earth–National Geographic Explorer and researcher, Rosa Vásquez Espinoza, traverses the depths of Lake Huron to understand how life on Earth evolved and what we can do to preserve it.
‘We Have Nothing’ Showing UFOs Are of Alien Origin, Defense Official Says, reports NextGov.com–“So far, data has not shown unidentified anomalous phenomena to be from an alien source, according to defense officials.”
Indigenous people may have created the Amazon’s ‘dark earth’ on purpose--“At archaeological sites across the Amazon River basin, mysterious patches of unusually fertile soil dot the landscape. Scientists have long debated the origin of this “dark earth,” which is darker in color than surrounding soils and richer in carbon. Now, researchers have shown that indigenous Kuikuro people in southeastern Brazil intentionally create similar soil around their villages,” reports Science News.
Consciousness’ in Robots Was Once Taboo. Now It’s the Last Word.–The pursuit of artificial awareness may be humankind’s next moonshot. But it comes with a flurry of difficult questions.
Scientists Discovered A Strange ‘Mini Moon’ Asteroid Orbiting Earth, reports MSN. “Has Earth ever had more than one moon? Well, it depends how you define it, but Earth definitely has had other orbiting objects over the years. In fact, three have been confirmed in the 21st century alone. One of those was discovered in December 2022. It’s an asteroid known as 2022 YG, per CNET.”
The promise of batteries that come from trees, reports BBC Future. “As demand for electric vehicles soars, scientists are searching for materials to make sustainable batteries. Lignin, the stuff that makes trees woody, is shaping up to be a strong contender.”
The ozone layer was destroyed during Earth’s biggest mass extinction--Fossils show plants were producing higher levels of sunscreen chemicals to protect against higher ultraviolet light levels at the end of the Permian period, reports New Scientist.
How the war in Ukraine is killing marine mammals, reports BBC Future.”Dolphins and porpoises have been washing up dead on the shores of the Black Sea in unusually high numbers – scientists investigating the strandings are now pointing the finger at increased Russian naval activity due to the war in Ukraine.”
No alien life discovered on Earth, Pentagon says, but search deepens–A new office within the Defense Department is evaluating recent reports of unexplained phenomena and is planning to look at accounts dating back decades, reports The Washington Post.
Homo sapiens and Neanderthals share high cerebral cortex integration into adulthood, reports Nature.com–” unlike our closest living relatives, Homo sapiens retain high levels of covariation between cortical areas into adulthood. “The brain in H. sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis evolved under distinctly higher evolutionary rates than in any other primate, suggesting that natural selection favored a greatly integrated brain in both species.”
Galaxies shockingly similar to our own found near the beginning of the universe by Nasa, reports The Independent. “Such barred galaxies have been seen before, in our own Milky Way. But seeing them this early on in the development of the cosmos will need a rewriting of our galaxies of how galaxies evolve.”
Scientists Just Uncovered A Whole New Layer of Brain Anatomy, reports ScienceAlert. “Researchers from the University of Copenhagen and University of Rochester have identified a layer of tissue that helps protect our gray and white matter, one that hasn’t been distinguished before.”
Half of Earth’s glaciers could melt even if key warming goal is met, study says–New research suggests that even at 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming above preindustrial levels, the Earth will lose nearly half of its glaciers, reports Washington Post.
A New Puzzle Turns Earth Into a Rubik’s Cube, but More Complex—Continental Drift is one of Henry Segerman’s latest efforts to make mathematics “real,” reports the New York Times.
Sync Your Calendar With the Solar System.–Never miss an eclipse, a meteor shower, a rocket launch or any other astronomical and space event that’s out of this world, re[orts The New York Times.
Has the Amazon Reached Its ‘Tipping Point’?–Some Brazilian scientists fear that the Amazon may become a grassy savanna — with profound effects on the climate worldwide, reports The New York Times.
65% of Antarctica’s plants and animals could disappear, scientists say. Its iconic penguins are most at risk, reports Rachel Ramirez for CNN. ““Antarctica is not really contributing to climate change; there’s not a large-scale number of people living there, so the greatest threat to the continent is coming from outside the continent,” Jasmine Lee, lead author of the study, told CNN.”
A Comet Not Seen in 50,000 Years Is Streaking by Earth Soon. Here’s When to Look Up, reports Science Alert. “The comet is called C/2022 E3 (ZTF) after the Zwicky Transient Facility, which first spotted it passing Jupiter in March last year. After traveling from the icy reaches of our Solar System it will come closest to the Sun on January 12 and pass nearest to Earth on February 1.”
Inventor in Baja is testing a plan to cool the Earth by mimicking a volcanic eruption, reports CNBC–“Climate scientists who have been involved with solar geoengineering for a long time say the Make Sunsets balloon launches are not going to generate productive research and that the field needs to be governed by an international body.”
Curated by The Daily Galaxy Editorial Staff
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Dan Hooper – Author of At the Edge of Time, and Head of the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.