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SCIENCE
June 19, 2013 | By Karen Kaplan
Earthlings, get ready to say cheese! NASA's Cassini spacecraft will be taking your picture next month -- from 898 million miles away. If you happen to have your eyes closed or your hair is out of place, don't worry. All of planet Earth will fit into 1.5 pixels in the final image. Most of the frame will be filled by Saturn and its gigantic rings (though some of the edges will be cut off). Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Canada Flintridge are taking the picture - actually, a mosaic of images - because they can. It just so happens that Cassini and the sun will be on opposite sides of Saturn, allowing the spacecraft to see the planet and its famous rings with unusual clarity.
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NEWS
November 20, 2012 | By Michael McGough
How old is the Earth? Scientists say 4.5 billion years. But Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) isn't a scientist, so he's not sure. That's what the Republican rising star told an interviewer for GQ who posed the question. “I'm not a scientist, man,” Rubio, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, said. “I can tell you what recorded history says; I can tell you what the Bible says; but I think that's a dispute amongst theologians, and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.” In case the interviewer didn't hear him the first time, Rubio added: “I'm not a scientist.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
May 24, 2013 | By Kate Mather
The Happiest All-Nighter on Earth? Hundreds of people flocked Friday to Disneyland and Disney California Adventure Friday, which opened for 24 straight hours beginning at 6 a.m. The Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando, Fla., was also opened for the "Monstrous Summer All-Nighter," part of the promotion for the entertainment giant's upcoming movie, "Monsters University. " The event marked the first time all-night opened for all three parks, Disney officials said. The last 24-hour event at Disneyland -- on Leap Day 2012 -- caused several headaches after a large after-work crowd overwhelmed the park , prompting officials to close gates for several hours.
SCIENCE
April 11, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Early Thursday morning, solar observers watched as a dark spot on the sun erupted with an enormous flash of light, causing the biggest solar flare of 2013. Solar flares themselves don't last long, but this one was powerful enough to cause a bubble of solar material called a CME (coronal mass ejection) to come bursting off the sun. Up to billions of tons of that solar material is now hurtling through space at the mind-bending speed of more than 600 miles per second, and it is heading directly toward Earth.
SCIENCE
April 1, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
Tiny microbes on the bottom of the ocean floor may have been responsible for the largest extinction event our planet has ever seen, according to a new study. These microbes of death were so small, that 1 billion of them could fit in a thimble-full of ocean sediment, and yet, they were almost responsible for killing off all the life on our planet, the scientists suggest. The end-Permian extinction was the most catastrophic mass extinction the Earth has ever seen. It started roughly 252 million years ago --long before the dinosaurs-- and it continued for 20,000 years.
NEWS
November 19, 2012 | By Morgan Little
Looking for a sign that the Republican Party might have some leaders who can appeal to younger voters? Mitt Romney cited the Beach Boys, Garth Brooks and the Eagles among his favorite musicians, but Sen. Marco Rubio raised some eyebrows Monday with hat tips to N.W.A and Public Enemy. Rubio, 42, who has sparked early 2016 presidential hype with a headlining visit to Iowa over the weekend, spoke to GQ about a number of topics, but his opinions on music and the Earth's age overshadowed his perspective on President Obama and young Republicans.
BUSINESS
December 11, 2012 | By Deborah Netburn
Asteroid 4179 Toutatis will zip past Earth this week. At its closest approach Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, it will come within 18 lunar distances of the planet. That's 18 times the distance from the Earth to the moon. That may not sound too close, but the asteroid's erratic orbit occasionally has it zipping by a little too close for comfort. That's why the asteroid has been designated "potentially hazardous. "  In 2004 for example, the asteroid's orbit took it even closer to the Earth -- just about four lunar distances.
SCIENCE
July 30, 2012 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Poring over images of Saturn's icy moon Iapetus, planetary scientists have discovered massive landslides in which the falling ice travels much farther than should be possible given the coefficient of friction of the falling ice. In one spectacular case in the moon's Malun crater, ice broke off the wall of the 5-mile-deep crater and surged 22 miles across the crater floor -- an unusually long distance. Given that cold ice has a relatively high coefficient of friction, such long distances should not be possible unless there are forces at work that researchers don't yet know about, said planetary scientist William McKinnon of Washington University in St. Louis, who led the team studying the landslides.
SCIENCE
September 20, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Sometime between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years from now, our planet is going to be too hot to support life, according to a new study in the journal Astrobiology. When that happens, whatever life forms are around may want to move one planet over and set up camp on Mars.  "We think that Mars will probably be our best bet once the Earth gets too hot," study leader Andrew Rushby of the University of East Anglia in Britain told the Los Angeles Times.  Rushby is interested in how long planets can remain in the habitable zone around their sun. That's the zone with just the right conditions for liquid water to exist on the planet's surface.  If a planet is too close to the sun, high temperatures would cause every drop of water to evaporate; too far away, and the planet is an icy wasteland.
SCIENCE
September 19, 2013 | By Deborah Netburn
Scientists have done the math, and according to their calculations, life on Earth has 1.75 to 3.25 billion years left to thrive. And that's if a giant asteroid or a nuclear war doesn't finish us off first. Yes, there is a big difference between 1.75 billion and 3.25 billion years, but predicting the end of life on our planet is not an exact science, at least not yet. To arrive at that 1.5-billion-year doomsday spread, graduate student Andrew Rushby of the University of East Anglia in Britain created two slightly different equations that estimate the length of time Earth will remain in the "habitable zone" around the sun.  A planet is considered to be in the habitable zone when liquid water can exist on its surface.
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