Giant Jim Morrison lizard and climate change
June 5th, 2013
04:39 AM ET

Giant Jim Morrison lizard and climate change

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

To get through the long, tedious hours sitting in the fossil archives at the University of California-Berkeley, Jason Head would listen to the hypnotic sounds of The Doors.

So when he happened upon one of the biggest lizards that ever walked on land, he found it fitting to name it after the band's frontman, Jim Morrison - the original Lizard King.

But that's not what makes this find interesting. It's what the existence of the "Bearded King Morrison" tells us about the effects of climate change that's intriguing.

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Filed under: Climate • Discoveries • Global Warming • News • On Earth • Science Seat
What's the matter with antimatter?
This illustration shows what might happen when matter and antimatter annihilate each other.
May 2nd, 2013
04:13 AM ET

What's the matter with antimatter?

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

Nuclear scientists in Switzerland recently dropped some antimatter. The world didn't blow up, but there were some tiny explosions.

Scientists are hoping the experiment will teach them more about how the universe developed after the Big Bang.

Physicists with ALPHA Collaboration research group are trying to figure out how antimatter interacts with gravity, and if it produces "antigravity," says the group's founder, Jeffrey Hangst.

Their experiment mirrors the way Sir Isaac Newton came up with the law of gravity in the late 17th century.

Legend has it that an apple fell off a tree and hit the English nobleman on the head.

Newton got to thinking how gravity made the apple speed up as it fell.

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Filed under: Discoveries • News • On Earth • Particle physics
Full moon involved in general's death?
Stonewall Jackson's left arm is interned separate from the rest of his body.
May 1st, 2013
10:38 AM ET

Full moon involved in general's death?

By Ben Brumfield, CNN

A full moon hung just right in the night sky as the fierce Southern Army faced the encroaching Union troops in the spring of 1863.

Though they were outmanned and outgunned, the momentum of the war seemed to be on the side of Generals Robert E. Lee and "Stonewall" Jackson in Northern Virginia.

But the tide turned in the American Civil War not long after Jackson's own men inadvertently shot him that May night at the battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia.

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Filed under: On Earth
April 22nd, 2013
04:25 PM ET

A one-way ticket to Mars, apply now

Step right up and prove why you should get a one-way ticket to Mars! But wait - you might want to know a little more about this venture first.

A Dutch company called Mars One is looking for volunteer astronauts to fly to Mars. The search began Monday. Departure for the Red Planet is scheduled for 2022, landing seven months later in 2023.

The space travelers will return ... never. They will finish out their lives on Mars and die there, representatives from the nonprofit organization said.

"It's likely that there will be a crematorium," said CEO Bas Lansdorp. "It's up to the people on Mars to decide what to do with their dead."

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Near death researcher describes 'afterlife'
April 9th, 2013
08:53 AM ET

Near death researcher describes 'afterlife'

You're about to go to "heaven" and live to tell about it. And your story will become the subject of scientific research.

It's the perfect day. You're strolling down a sidewalk, listening to an ensemble of bird songs, soaking up a balmy breeze fragranced with fresh spring flowers, and gazing up at a cloudless sky of pure azure.

Pleasantly distracted, you step off the sidewalk into the street. Brakes screech; horns blare; people shriek in horror. You snap back to reality ... just as the truck hits you.

You fly for yards like a rag doll; you land hard. You're numb all over and fading fast. It's all over; you know it. Your life flashes before you like an epic movie. The End.

You leave your body and look down at it. People are bending over it. Someone is sobbing uncontrollably. As the ambulance rushes up, a blinding light surges above you. It beckons you softly.

You follow it through a tunnel to a place much more vividly real and spectacular than the banner Sunday afternoon you just left behind. You are sure you have arrived in the hereafter.

Weeks later, you wake up to the steady beeps of an EKG monitor next to your hospital bed.

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Filed under: Commentary • Discoveries
Physicists a step closer to invisibility cloak
March 27th, 2013
05:54 AM ET

Physicists a step closer to invisibility cloak

Some scientists seem to take their cues from science fiction or fantasy novels.

Physicists in Texas have developed a method to make objects "invisible" within a limited range of light waves. It's not Harry Potter's invisibility cloak just yet, but scientists say it has a lot of potential.

The desire to become invisible dates back to the ancient Greeks, if not further. In mythological literature, gods and goddesses donned a headdress to disappear from sight. Like Potter's cloak, the "cap of invisibility" was imbued with magical powers.

A fixture in magic, the invisibility cloak has now advanced to science.

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Quasars discovered 50 years ago
March 16th, 2013
07:06 AM ET

Quasars discovered 50 years ago

Breathtaking blossoms nearly the size of our solar system are strewn across the universe - hundreds of thousands of them. Quasars are, at the same time, among the most fiery monsters.

Astronomer Maarten Schmidt was the first to discover one and revealed it to the world 50 years ago Saturday in an article in the journal Nature.

His discovery was a sensation in the 1960s and made its way into pop culture. It was the age of the first manned space flights.

"It reverberated," Schmidt recalls. "It drew a lot of attention."

In the popular TV series Star Trek, the original crew of the Starship Enterprise was tasked with inspecting the newly discovered phenomenon close up.

Electronics company Motorola branded a line of televisions 'Quasar.' A decade later Marvel Comics created a superhero with the same name.

Luckily, no quasar is anywhere close to Earth, said Schmidt, who made the discovery at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

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Filed under: In Space
Global Warming is epic, long-term study says
A scientist looks at an ice core from the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide coring site.
March 8th, 2013
05:29 AM ET

Global Warming is epic, long-term study says

Global warming has propelled Earth's climate from one of its coldest decades since the last ice age to one of its hottest - in just one century.

A heat spike like this has never happened before, at least not in the last 11,300 years, said climatologist Shaun Marcott, who worked on a new study on global temperatures going back that far.

Things are poised to get much worse.

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February 5th, 2013
09:53 AM ET

An asteroid is coming, and scientists are excited. Fear not, Earth is safe

Look out for Asteroid 2012 DA14.

It is heading toward Earth at 17,450 miles per hour, according to NASA, and the tug of our planet's gravitational field will cause it to accelerate when it gets here.

But it's not going to strike us, when it passes by on February 15. NASA is adamant about this.

"Its orbit is very well-known," said Dr. Don Yeomans, NASA specialist for near-Earth objects. "We know exactly where it's going to go, and it cannot hit the Earth."

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Filed under: In Space
September 19th, 2012
12:47 PM ET

NASA's last space shuttle on nostalgic flight to retirement home

The space shuttle Endeavour began its final aerial show on Wednesday, thrilling spectators across the southern United States before completing the first stage of its transcontinental voyage in Houston.

After a two-day delay due to unfavorable weather, Endeavour began its flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida to Los Angeles, where the now-retired spacecraft will be displayed.
Endeavour, along with Discovery, Enterprise and Atlantis, became museum pieces after NASA ended its 30-year shuttle program in July 2011.

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Filed under: Hardware in Orbit • News

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