December 3, 2012 |
After much hype, NASA's Curiosity rover just may have found signs of organic compounds on the Red Planet. But not so fast, Mars Science Laboratory researchers said Monday. The rover has scooped and sampled what appear to be chlorinated organic molecules at a site called Rocknest, but scientists are not yet sure if the part that makes them organic is native to Mars or is a molecular hitchhiker from Earth, said Paul Mahaffy, lead investigator for Sample Analysis at Mars, one of the lab instruments in Curiosity's belly.
November 24, 2012 |
Why is it that people go crazy for carrots but ignore parsnips? They're among the sweetest of the root vegetables, particularly after they've gone through the first frost. With the first deep chill, enzymes in the root begin converting stored starches into the sugar the plant will need come spring. It's the vegetable equivalent of transferring money from savings into checking. Like other root vegetables, parsnips are covered with a corky skin that serves to protect them from any soil-borne foes, and they have a hard core that is actually the plumbing that transfers water from the soil up to the plants' leaves.
November 18, 2012 |
Lewis Hamilton wanted to make Formula One's return to the U.S. something special, for him and for racing. The Briton did just that Sunday, using a thrilling pass of Sebastian Vettel at the end of a long straightaway to take the lead, then holding off the German for the final 14 laps to win the U.S. Grand Prix at Austin, Texas, the first Formula One race on American soil since 2007. Hamilton won that race five years ago and made the move of the day to capture his fourth victory of the 2012 season.
November 16, 2012 |
In a sense, Ken Burns' new documentary is the photographic negative of the one he delivered in 2009: Instead of swooning full-color shots of azure lakes and soaring mountains, his new film is made of images that could come from the dark side of the moon. In some of them, the parched land tells its own silent story. In others, we see bleached-out shots of people, in overalls, scowling. Or children in gas masks, looking like humanoid visitors from another world. And while "The National Parks," from 2009, recounted the tale of triumph, his new film is not nearly so life-affirming.
October 5, 2012 |
For the Mars Curiosity rover, it's one "first-ever" after another. The 1,982-pound explorer is now at a spot in Mars' Gale Crater called Rocknest, ready to use its robotic scoop for soil samples. Scientists hope the samples will provide information crucial to the project's central mission -- determining whether there were conditions on the planet at some time that could have fostered life. That's microbial life, to be exact, but still -- alien life. Four scoops of Martian dirt should be about right to provide new data to help solve this mystery.
October 2, 2012 |
Jimmy Hoffa -- the legendary labor leader -- is still missing, authorities said Tuesday after tests failed to detect any human remains in a sample dug up from a suburban Detroit driveway. The negative results mean that Hoffa's final resting place still ranks with such notable mysteries as the whereabouts of aviator Amelia Earhart and the disappearance of Judge Joseph Force Crater . All have become fodder for theorists seeking to resolve unexplained endings. Scientists at Michigan State University recently tested two samples cored from the ground beneath a driveway in Roseville, Mich., as part of an investigation prompted by a tip from an unidentified man who said he thought he saw a body being buried beneath a driveway years ago. The tests came back negative, according to police.
August 24, 2012 |
[ UPDATE : A copy of a letter obtained by the Times, sent by Sam Unger, executive officer of the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board, to Disney, states: "Regional Board staff has reviewed the Report and finds that heavy metals, including hexavalent chromium, are within regulatory guidelines for an industrial and commercial land use scenario - the current designated zoning of the site. " The letter states that the determination by the board applies to soil only. "The Walt Disney Co. shall contact the Regional Board immediately if additional soil and groundwater contamination is discovered during any future site activities, or if The Walt Disney Company plans any changes of land use scenarios at the Site.
August 23, 2012 |
Rice, like all plants, needs phosphorus to grow. But there's a problem for this crop, the most important calorie source in Asia. Much of the soil it's grown on is low in phosphorus, and yields suffer as a result. What's more, world supplies of phosphorus -- it comes from phosphate rock -- are expensive for poor farmers and won't last forever. So it would be very helpful if rice plants could be altered to tolerate low phosphorus levels. Scientists in the the Philippines, Japan and Italy have now reported doing just that.
August 16, 2012
The compact yet meandering documentary "Until They Are Home" has its heart in the right place, but its filmmaking is all over the map. With soaring music, archival footage and Kelsey Grammer's serious baritone narration, the movie champions the dedicated efforts of JPAC - the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command - to locate the remains of America's war dead left behind in foreign lands. Director Steven Barber focuses on the Pacific atoll of Tarawa, where a fast, brutal U.S. invasion in November 1943 killed so many so quickly that mass graves were utilized, leaving hundreds of fallen soldiers unaccounted for after the war ended and the island built itself up as a nation.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
July 14, 2012 |
Three weeks from tonight, an amiable, whip-smart engineer named Ray Baker will be staring into his computer screen at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, hopeful and helpless - or, as he puts it, "sweating blood. " The night will have been 10 years and $2.5 billion in the making, incorporating the work of 5,000 people in 37 states. And then, 154 million miles from home, the fate of the most ambitious machine humans have sent to another planet will rest on a seven-minute landing sequence so far-fetched it looks like something Wile E. Coyote devised to catch the Road Runner.