Archive for April, 2010

SETI: 50 years of searching for ET

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 26, 2010   View Article

Somewhere out there, alien civilizations might be communicating with each other. They might even be trying to contact us. Fifty years ago, this reasoning compelled astronomer Frank Drake to point a radio telescope at the stars and listen for chatter. He didn’t hear E.T. calling us, calling home, or calling anywhere else during his four-month-long experiment at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, W.Va., but the effort officially kicked off what is known as SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Sun Erupts: Epic Blast Seen by NASA Solar Observatory

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 23, 2010   View Article

NASA’s new Solar Dynamics Observatory may be getting all the press this week for its retina-searing first pictures of the sun. But two old sun-observing warhorses recently showed they’re not quite ready for pasture yet.

The twin, golf cart-size spacecraft of NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) mission filmed, in ultraviolet light, the largest solar “prominence” in 15 years, according to the space agency.

Earth Day at 40: How it Began, Where It’s Going

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 22, 2010   View Article

From grassroots beginnings in 1970, Earth Day—which celebrates its 40th anniversary today—has blossomed into a global tradition.

Organizers expect more than a billion to honor Earth Day in 2010—but many will do so with Facebook rather than megaphones.

As part of the Billion Acts of Green, an initiative organized by the Washington, D.C.-based Earth Day Network’s Green Generation campaign, more than 30 million people will use social media to encourage green activities. One commenter on the Earth Day Network Web site named “Elroy,” for example, plans to “shower with a friend”—presumably to conserve water and electricity.

Geeking Out and About

Publication: MSN/SwitchYard Media   Date: April 20, 2010   View Article

Why hide your dorky self behind a bland exterior of cool when there are so many interesting places where weirdos (and we mean that in the best sense) roam free?

Tech nerds who need a transistor fix flock to the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. News junkies visit the Newseum in the nation’s capital, where they rifle through archives and watch old clips. And grown men who play with dolls? Well, there’s a place for them at the Toy and Action Figure Museum in Pauls Valley, Okla.

Whether you’re a closet disco dweeb, a Vulcan-eared Trekkie or just have an obsession with all things Bond James Bond, there’s a museum somewhere in this vast land with your name on it. We surveyed a few of the strange, exciting places you should visit.

Seven out-of-this world destinations

Publication: MSNBC.com   Date: April 13, 2010   View Article

We are headed to Mars … eventually. But first we need the rocket technology and human spaceflight savvy to get us there safely and efficiently. And the best way to do that is to visit places such as asteroids, our moon, a Martian moon and even no man’s lands in space called “Lagrange points,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden explained during the unveiling of the agency’s revised vision for space exploration.

The vision shifts focus away from a return to the moon as part of a steppingstone to Mars in favor of what experts call a “flexible path” to space exploration, pushing humans ever deeper into the cosmos.

Comet “Shower” Killed Ice Age Mammals?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 7, 2010   View Article

The comet that created the annual Taurid meteor shower was also responsible for snuffing out large mammals in North America 13,000 years ago, a controversial new study says.

The geologic record shows that global temperatures plummeted by as much as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) just as Earth was thawing out from the last ice age.

This cold snap probably led to the extinction in North America of large animals such as saber-toothed cats and wooly mammoths. But scientists have been unsure what triggered the abrupt change.

Pictures: Millions of Sea Turtles Killed Accidentally?

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 6, 2010   View Article

Entangled and drowned in a fishing net off the coast of Brazil, these green sea turtles in an undated picture are just a few of the millions of sea turtles that have been unintentionally killed by fishing operations over the past 20 years, according to a study released today by the journal Conservation Letters.

“Of all the threats sea turtles face right now, bycatch is the most serious,” said Bryan Wallace, a marine biologist with Conservation International and lead author of the study.

The study pulls together data from around the world on sea turtle deaths from nets, hooks, and trawls – and questions the estimates of previous reports.

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