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November 20, 2009 | By Glenn Whipp
The action in the new kids flick "Planet 51" takes place on an alternate-universe version of Earth where Shrek-green humanoids live out SoCal-accented happy days, complete with Googie architecture, white picket fences and Little Richard playing on the radio. The big news among the populace is the premiere of "Humaniacs III," the latest in a popular movie series about human invaders who "eat brains for dinner." So when American astronaut Chuck Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson)
April 17, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Sifting through observations from more than 100,000 distant stars, astronomers say they have discovered the first definitive Earth-sized planet that orbits in a habitable zone where water could exist in liquid form - a necessary condition for life as we know it. Scientists don't know whether the planet has water or a protective atmosphere. They don't even know its mass. But they said the landmark discovery gives astronomers great hope that a bumper crop of Earth-like planets is waiting to be found much closer to home, including around temperamental stars that until recently were considered inhospitable to life.
December 18, 2010 | Patt Morrison
Look, Pluto had a good run. While 76 years is nothing in astronomical time, in the human span it's a whole lifetime. For all those decades, Pluto was regarded as a planet, the smallest and most distant member of our solar system family. It had an affectionate place in human hearts, and a Disney cartoon character and an element as famous namesakes. And then, Mike Brown killed it. He admits as much; it's the title of his book, "How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming. " In 2005, the Caltech astronomer found, in the same neighborhood as Pluto, an object at least as big as Pluto, which he called Eris.
April 6, 2014 | By Monte Morin
If you've ever felt the earth shudder beneath your feet during an earthquake, you're no stranger to the effects of Earth's ever-roaming tectonic plates. While scientists have linked the movements of these rigid, puzzle-piece slabs to our planet's most violent events -- quakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions -- they have struggled to explain exactly how they came to exist in the first place. Now, in the journal Nature , two geophysicists have proposed that Earth's outermost layer, or lithosphere, was microscopically weakened and brittled by movement in viscous layers below it billions of years ago. Study authors David Bercovici of Yale University and Yanick Ricard of the Univeristy of Lyon note that Earth is the only planet in the solar system that appears to have tectonic plates that move freely on its surface, propelled by the motion of layers below.
July 5, 2012
MOVIES "Frozen Planet" in Concert comes to the big screen at the Hollywood Bowl. A co-production of the BBC and Discovery Channel, "Frozen Planet" features breathtaking images of earth's vast, wild polar regions. The film will be accompanied by a live orchestra conducted by composer George Fenton. The Hollywood Bowl, 2301 North Highland Ave., L.A. 8 p.m. Sat. Prices vary. (323) 850-2000;
October 2, 1991
In reading Mark Davis' deliberately alarming column (Column Left, Sept. 17) on the imminent danger of losing our planet, I conclude that according to Davis we must stop all economic growth. Now! We must all stop development, stop industry, stop everything we are doing to save the planet. Now! I have observed that the true conservationists are the homeless. They don't use unnecessary gas or electricity to heat large homes (or even small ones); they don't drive cars, thus saving on fuel and fuel emission; they don't bathe or use toilets, thus conserving water; they recycle our clothing; they eat our leftovers.
January 15, 2013
Re "Climate panel delivers a grim portrait," Jan. 12 "Climate change" is a rather benign term for the global disaster that will, in a very short time, affect all life on this planet. Even "global warming" can be misunderstood. Some people, in cold climates, might think it good to have an extra few degrees of heat. Few seem to understand that it means myriad extreme consequences that we're already experiencing. There's no time to argue; there's only time for serious action on everyone's part.
December 23, 1990
Did everyone marvel at those stunning photos of clear-cut forests in "Portrait of a Planet" (Nov. 11)? I would be very surprised if the ongoing devastation in Northern California has nothing to do with the decrease in rainfall in Southern California since World War II. For what it's worth, I'm planting trees in my own yard, and I'll give them all the water they need, Bradley's 10%-water-reduction decree be damned. If Central Valley farmers can throw away their cheap water running sprinklers in the noonday sun on surplus crops like cotton and alfalfa, I can take all the 15-minute showers I please.
December 13, 2012 | By Gary Goldstein
The world is in a heap of trouble -- make that heaps: giant, toxic mountains of garbage that endanger our oceans, marine life, the atmosphere and humanity in general -- without an end in sight. That is, unless citizens, industry and governments get deadly serious about such solutions as mass recycling, composting, plastics reduction and more. Such is the global crisis that's vividly, relentlessly detailed in the vital documentary "Trashed," starring dulcet-voiced zero waste advocate, actor Jeremy Irons.
August 27, 2009 | John Johnson Jr.
Scientists have discovered a planet that shouldn't exist. The finding, they say, could alter our understanding of orbital dynamics, a field considered pretty well settled since the time of astronomer Johannes Kepler 400 years ago. The planet is known as a "hot Jupiter," a gas giant orbiting the star Wasp-18, about 330 light years from Earth. The planet, Wasp-18b, is so close to the star that it completes a full orbit (its "year") in less than an Earth day, according to the research, which was published in the journal Nature.
April 5, 2014
Re "Climate change here and now," Editorial, April 1 The reality of global warming isn't disputed: It's clearly for real, and it will get worse if we don't act now. Because all of us are affected, it would seem to be a time for cooperation across the aisle. But global warming has become politicized, just another issue for Republicans and Democrats to take sides on. A slowly rising fee on carbon-based fuels is a good way to cut heat-trapping gases going into the atmosphere.
April 2, 2014 | By Richard Verrier and John Horn
When filmmaker Darren Aronofsky started scouting locations for his biblical flood epic, "Noah," he had two potentially competing needs. The landscapes on which he would shoot exteriors needed at first to look like an uninhabitable wasteland, and, after the deluge, a new garden of Eden, where Noah, his family and his ark of animals could begin to repopulate the earth. The writer-director's production team considered Death Valley, deserts in Mexico and the Canary Islands. But when they visited Iceland, "Noah" found its port of call.
March 26, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Planet-hunters scouring the heavens have found thousands of distant worlds around other stars, but astronomers may have overlooked one lurking much closer to home. Scientists searching for glimmers of light beyond Pluto say they've discovered a new dwarf planet - and that its movements hint that an invisible giant planet far larger than Earth may inhabit the solar system's mysterious frontier. The new dwarf planet, dubbed 2012 VP113 and described in a study published in Thursday's edition of the journal Nature, helps confirm the existence of an "inner Oort cloud" in an interplanetary no man's land that was once thought to be barren but could be teeming with rocky objects.
March 26, 2014 | By Amina Khan
Astronomers searching for the faintest glimmers of light beyond distant Pluto say they've discovered a new dwarf planet - and that this planetoid's movements hint that an invisible giant planet perhaps 10 times the size of Earth could be lurking around the dark fringes of our solar system. The new dwarf planet 2012 VP-113, described Wednesday in the journal Nature, helps confirm the existence of an “inner Oort cloud” in an interplanetary no man's land that was once thought to be empty but could potentially be teeming with rocky denizens.
March 26, 2014 | By Deborah Netburn
In a first, scientists have detected rings encircling an M&M-shaped asteroid known as Chariklo. Until now, only the solar system's four gas planets - Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus and especially Saturn - were known to have rings. "It was an extremely surprising discovery," said James Bauer, a planetary astronomer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in La Cañada Flintridge who was not involved in the finding. "No one has ever seen rings around a comet or an asteroid before. This is a brand-new area.
March 22, 2014 | By Barbara Demick
BEIJING - Michelle Obama strayed into taboo territory during a speech Saturday at China's Peking University in which she called the rights of free speech and worship "the birthright of every person on this planet. " The first lady dropped her remarks toward the end of an otherwise uncontroversial speech to Chinese and U.S. students about overseas exchange programs. "We respect the uniqueness of other cultures and societies," Obama said with a caveat nodding to Beijing's frequent protestations that Westerners don't understand their system.
June 19, 2012 | By Salvador Rodriguez, This post has been corrected. See note below.
When your TV is longer diagonally than most people are tall, that's when you have the largest LED TV on the planet. That's what Sharp has. The Japanese company Tuesday introduced what it contends is the largest LED TV in the world, announcing and launching the 90-inch Aquos LED TV. The TV is 4 feet tall, 8 feet diagonally and more than 6 feet wide with a depth of 5 inches. Sharp says it  weighs 141 pounds.  In addition to its impressive screen size, its other features seem solid.
March 8, 2014 | By Amina Khan
In a young, nearby solar system, scientists have discovered giant clouds of poison gas -- the smoking gun from a violent encounter, astronomers say. Based on massive amounts of carbon monoxide gas around the star Beta Pictoris, either two Mars-sized planets slammed into each other with catastrophic results, or hordes of comets are crashing into one another at an astounding rate. The findings, published by the journal Science, could help provide an up-close look at how stars and their planetary systems form and evolve.
February 26, 2014 | By Amina Khan, This post has been updated, as indicated below.
Using a brand-new technique, scientists using NASA's Kepler Space Telescope have found 715 confirmed planets huddling around 305 stars, nearly triple Kepler's previous total of 246 confirmed planets in the Milky Way galaxy. Nearly 95% of them are smaller than Neptune, and four of them are in their star's habitable zone, the region where liquid water - a necessary ingredient for life as we know it - could exist. Even though the planet-hunting telescope's crucial pointing ability was crippled last year , data mined from the spacecraft are still turning up a trove of strange and wonderful worlds, researchers said - bringing them ever closer to finding "Earth 2.0. " “We've been able to open the bottleneck to access the mother lode and deliver to you more than 20 times as many planets as have ever been found and announced at once,” said Jack Lissauer, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center who led one of two papers on the discovery set to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.
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