Out of the 219 new planet candidates in the NASA catalog, 10 are in the habitable zones of their stars.

Abstracts: Planets, Heat and Human-like Computers

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• NASA’s Kepler Spacecraft released a new list of 4,034 objects that astronomers are 90 percent sure are planets orbiting other stars, all confined to a small region of the Milky Way. The list includes at least one planet, KOI 7711, whose orbit is nearly exactly a year and whose width is only 30 percent greater than Earth, making it the most earth-like planet discovered based on size and distance to its star. (New York Times)

Out of the 219 new planet candidates in the NASA catalog, 10 are in the habitable zones of their stars. Visual: Vitalij Cerepok / EyeEm

• A new study analyzing the DNA of more than 200 ancient cats suggests that Ancient Egyptians were primarily responsible for domesticating and popularizing the modern cat, rather than ancient Cypriots, as previously believed. (Science Magazine)

• Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of SpaceX and Tesla, published a plan for colonizing Mars to transform humanity into a “multi-planetary species.” Musk’s article, which summarizes a presentation he gave on the same topic in September, can be read for free until July 5. (Scientific American)

• Researchers at the University of New Hampshire found that adult mammals have historically shrunk in body size during periods of warming based on analyses of mammals’ fossilized teeth and jaw fragments, suggesting some mammals might similarly shrink as climate change continues to warm the planet. (LA Times)

• Thirty percent of people worldwide are exposed to life-threatening heat conditions at least 20 days of the year, and that number is expected to increase to 74 percent by 2100 if we do not reduce climate changing emissions, according to a study published in Nature. (Popular Science)

• Homo sapien fossil remains have been found in north Africa dating back 300,000 years — 100,000 years older than human fossil remains that had been found previously. The researchers, who published their work in Nature, noted that this is the first discovery of early human remains from north Africa, rather than south or east Africa. (CNN)

• The prevalence of once-rare large wildfires in the Great Plains grew from 33 to 117 fires per year between 1985 and 2014, and the area of land burned increased by 400 percent. The lead author of the study, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, described the increase in Great Plains wildfires as “undocumented and unexpected.” (Washington Post)

• Scientists in China have beamed entangled pairs of photons across a distance of over 700 miles, an important step toward creating a secure quantum internet. This could allow encrypted information to be sent across a quantum network without the risk of decryption or hacking. (The Guardian)

• And finally, researchers at Google’s DeepMind are beginning to develop computers that can perform relational reasoning — a skill that had previously posed a challenge for artificial intelligence — better than humans. (Science Magazine)

 

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