March 14, 2013 |
Astronomers have had great success using tools like NASA's Kepler space telescope to peer into the heavens and find planets outside our solar system, but they haven't yet been able to describe those worlds in great depth. In large part, that is because they usually detect so-called exoplanets through indirect means - by observing how they obscure a tiny bit of light as they pass between their star and our vantage point, or how their gravity makes their host star wobble. Scientists can surmise a planet's distance from its star and some details about its size and mass, but it's difficult for them, for instance, to characterize the components in an exoplanet atmosphere - the kind of detail that might help researchers assess, someday, whether life could thrive on a planet or not. But on Thursday, a team of Canadian and American scientists reported new observations that provide unprecedented detail about a large, gaseous planet orbiting a young, bright star called HR 8799, about 130 light years away from our sun. The observations, made using at the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, were published online in the journal Science . Pointing the telescope toward the far-off planetary system and analyzing infrared signals, the team could see “chemical fingerprints” of the atmosphere of the giant planet HR 8799c that potentially explain how it formed, the study's coauthors said Wednesday during a phone call with reporters.
January 22, 2012 |
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona, who came to symbolize hope and resilience as she tenaciously recovered from a gunshot wound to the head during the last year, announced she would resign from Congress to concentrate on her recovery. Giffords, 41, announced her plans in a stylized video on YouTube and Facebook and in a Twitter post. Her decision, effective this week, clears the way for candidates in both parties to stake a claim on her competitive border district. By state law, her replacement will be chosen in a special election.
December 26, 2010
Syria, in the ancient heart of the Middle East, used to be rough, insular, politically extreme and all but off the map for travelers. Now, with a more forward-looking government, tourism increasing by almost 50% a year and opulent new hotels opening by the score, the luster is back on the magic lamp, making Syria one of the world's most compelling destinations for 2011. Recent visitors from the U.S. report that the largely Sunni Muslim population receives non-Islamic Westerners courteously, that tourists are allowed to shop and browse without annoyance from hard-selling touts and merchants, and that culture, cuisine and the arts in the former French colony have developed in strikingly stylish ways.
October 19, 2010 |
"You have served me camel. " "No, no, it's goat. " "It's camel," said Lucas, the driver. "Goat," said the waiter. Unconvinced, but with limited dining options, Lucas spooned meat and gristle from a silver bowl onto his rice. He ate quickly. This wasn't his kind of place, this outpost of herders, mechanics, butchers and a few Lutheran missionaries scattered at the fringe of a refugee camp. He would be here one night, then back to Nairobi. The guesthouse, where he parked his SUV behind a metal gate, seemed safe enough and the manager, a tall man with a short broom in his hands, had a reassuring, timeless face, one you could count on when darkness fell.
August 5, 2010 |
It's the show that everybody hears is great. But this time, someone on the Emmy nominating committee heard. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, the leads of the DirecTV/NBC drama "Friday Night Lights," have been delighting their small but fervent audience since the series premiered in 2006. The show takes place in the fictional town of Dillon, Texas, where football is as sacred as church and probably better attended. As Coach Eric Taylor, Chandler is only as popular as his last game; everyone in town feels the right to tell him how to do his job. Perhaps the only exception is his loving wife, Tami (Britton)
January 24, 2010 |
Michael Jackson's This Is It Sony, $28.96; Blu-ray, $39.95 Part performance film, part behind-the-scenes document, part memorial for a fallen star, "Michael Jackson's This Is It" compiles footage of Jackson's rehearsals for the London concerts he never staged. Fans looking for an approximation of those shows will be disappointed; "This Is It" doesn't include that many full performances of Jackson's songs. But for its rare glimpse at the star's creative process -- and its peek at how surprisingly vital Jackson looked just days before he died -- the film is invaluable.