This Week's "Planet Earth Report" --How America Lost Its Mind, What If China Makes 1st Alien Contact to Mystery Object Beneath Antarctica

 

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This week's link to 10 headline stories from around the world on the threats, opportunities, and dangers facing our fragile planet --along with an occasional dash of humor, popular culture, and an intriguing conspiracy theory or two.

 

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One Gene in Human Brain Differentiates Us From Other Primates --"We Have No Idea What It's Doing There"

 

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The most dramatic divergence between humans and other primates can be found in the brain, the primary organ that gives our species its identity. Distinct differences have been found found within regions of the brain, even in the cerebellum, one of the evolutionarily most ancient regions of the brain, and therefore most likely to share similarities across species. Researchers found one gene, ZP2, was active in only human cerebellum -- a surprise, said the researchers, because the same gene had been linked to sperm selection by human ova.

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The Alien Observatory --"An Indigenous Technological Species Could Have Arisen in the Solar System Before Earth-Bound Life" (WATCH Video)

 

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“As we improve our understanding of ancient Earth and the history of our solar system, perhaps we may someday uncover evidence that suggests the activity of another technological civilization right here in our neighborhood,” said Andrew Siemion, the director of Berkeley’s SETI Research Center.

 

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Operation IceCube --"Will Antarctica's Ice Reveal a New Physics of the Universe?" (WATCH Video)

 

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"Understanding how neutrinos interact is key to the operation of IceCube," explained Francis Halzen, principal investigator for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory and a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of physics. "We were of course hoping for some new physics to appear, but we unfortunately find that the Standard Model, as usual, withstands the test." 

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ESO/NASA Video --Alien Interstellar Object "Unlike Anything We've Ever Seen" (WATCH Today's 'Galaxy' Stream)

 

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For the first time ever, astronomers have studied a 400-meter-long "monolith-like"  asteroid that has entered the Solar System from interstellar space. Observations from ESO’s Very Large Telescope in Chile and other observatories around the world show that this unique object was traveling through space for millions or billions of years before its chance encounter with our star system. It appears to be a dark, reddish, highly-elongated rocky or high-metal-content object.

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"It Appears that Dark Energy May Not Actually Exist" --A New Assault on the Very Existence of this Unknown Phenomena

 

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Researchers have hypothesized that the universe contains "dark matter." They have also posited the existence of "dark energy." These two hypotheses account for the movement of stars in galaxies and for the accelerating expansion of the universe. But according to a researcher at the University of Geneva (UNIGE), these concepts may be no longer valid, as universal phenomena can be demonstrated without them. This research exploits a new theoretical model based on the scale invariance of empty space.

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The LIGO Spacetime Event --"First Giant Galaxy We Observed had a New Source of Light Popping Right Out at Us" (WATCH Video)

 

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"We've shown that the heaviest elements in the periodic table, whose origin was shrouded in mystery until today are made in the mergers of neutron stars,” said Edo Berger with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "Each merger can produce more than an Earth’s mass of precious metals like gold and platinum and many of the rare elements found in our cellphones."

 

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Lunar Scientists Solve One of the Great Mysteries of the Moon's Formation

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 A University of Texas research team found that one of the great mysteries of the lunar body's formation - how it could develop a crust composed of just one mineral - cannot be explained by the initial crust formation and must have been the result of some secondary event.

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Astronomers Observe Strange, Exotic Behavior at Titan's Polar Regions

 

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A new study led by a University of Bristol earth scientist has shown that recently reported unexpected behavior on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, and is the only moon in our solar system to have a substantial atmosphere, is due to its unique atmospheric chemistry. Titan's polar atmosphere recently experiences and unexpected and significant cooling, contrary to all model predictions and differing from the behavior of all other terrestrial planets in our solar system.

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EcoAlert: NASA Links Melting Ice in Greenland and Antarctica to Sea-Level Rise in World's Coastal Cities

 

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All coastal cities will see some impacts of global sea level rise. But the new tool shows that, for example, New York City is more strongly affected by melting ice in northeastern Greenland than in southwestern Greenland; while Sydney has a greater risk from the rapidly melting Antarctic Peninsula than from East Antarctica.

 

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