Earth hit with largest solar radiation storm since 2003
This January 23 image captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows an M9-class solar flare erupting on the Sun.
January 24th, 2012
08:56 PM ET

Earth hit with largest solar radiation storm since 2003

Material from a Sunday solar eruption hit the Earth on Tuesday, helping to create the planet's strongest solar radiation storm in more than eight years, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said.

The eruption also has caused a minor geomagnetic storm, expected to continue at least through Tuesday. Together, the storms could affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and radio communications near the poles, the SWPC and NASA said.

The storms prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at  "a higher than normal radiation risk," the SWPC said.

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Is this a clue to toenail evolution?
Paleontologist Jonathan Bloch holds the nail and skull of an ancient extinct primate, Notharctus tenebrosus.
January 24th, 2012
11:26 AM ET

Is this a clue to toenail evolution?

While sorting  through primate fossils at the American Museum of Natural History, Stephanie Maiolino and Douglas Boyer found an extraordinary specimen. Encased in a block of mud and rock was the fossilized foot of an extinct creature called a notharctus.

They sent the foot, still encased in mud, to their colleague Joe Groenke at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York, and he did a CT scan. The foot bones were in good shape, and one of the toes looked unusual.

"It had a flattened tip, as you see in nailed-anthropoids, but the base of the claw showed that it would [be] projected up like a grooming claw and that it had weak muscle attachments, meaning the toe wasn't used for grabbing objects and locomotion like the other toes," Boyer explained.

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Filed under: On Earth
Gingrich promises JFK-like space speech
GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich's space address comes nearly 50 years after President Kennedy's moon-shot speech.
January 24th, 2012
10:16 AM ET

Gingrich promises JFK-like space speech

Could it be a coincidence that GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich describes his upcoming speech on space policy Wednesday as a "visionary" address "in the John F. Kennedy tradition?"

Perhaps not. After all 2012 is the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's iconic "we choose to go to the moon in this decade" speech, where he performed a presidential Babe Ruth. Like the Sultan of Swat, Kennedy dared to point out a seemingly impossible goal and swing for it - hitting a home run.

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Filed under: In Space • Mars • News

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