Deep history and the robot future


I reviewed four new science books for The New York Times. They span millions of years, beginning with the birth of humanity and ending with a serious look at AI. 

Weather didn't kill off Neandertals

Of the many possible explanations for the demise of the Neandertals (competition with humans, sex with humans and being folded into our genome, infection from humans, climate), researchers say in this week's Nature that climate can now be ruled out. A massive project at The University of Leeds examined three possible extinction dates for our sister species. They compared the dates with a deep-sea core drilled from the Cariaco Basin in Venezuela and found that in two cases there was no change in the weather, and in the last case, an encroaching cold change was 1000 years in the making--not the kind of cataclysmic event that would extinguish a species overnight.