March 05, 2013 | 3:56 p.m.

Sinister ‘Space Invaders’ galaxy found; can we trust our eyes?

“Space Invaders” fans, NASA and ESA have a gift for you: On Tuesday the agencies released images taken by the Hubble telescope of a galaxy that looks like one of the evil little aliens in the classic arcade game. The likeness is uncanny: wide, oblong head, small little legs spread wide, symmetrical crab-like body. This galaxy looks like it could have been pulled directly from the lineup of invaders in the late-’70s game created by Tomohiro Nishikado. The video game gained new popularity in 1980, when it was released for the Atari 2600. The first game to be officially licensed from its arcade version, “Space Invaders” was an unqualified success, becoming the first title to sell more than a million copies and providing a huge boost to sales of the console. It also became the cultural shorthand for all video […]
Feb. 25, 2013 | 4:01 p.m.

When Captain Kirk is not at the Oscars, he’s naming Pluto moons

William Shatner, moon-namer? That’s right. The actor, who appeared opposite Seth MacFarlane at the Oscars on Sunday night in the guise of “Star Trek’s” Captain Kirk, has spent the last week and a half waging a Twitter campaign to name one of Pluto’s two recently discovered moons “Vulcan.” And as of Monday, it appears he will be successful. More than 450,000 ballots were cast in an online vote at the website, and the name Vulcan, which was originally suggested by Shatner,  has emerged as the clear winner. “174,062 votes and Vulcan came out on top of the voting for the naming of Pluto’s moons. Thank you to all who voted! MBB” Shatner wrote on his Twitter feed.  (“MBB” stands for “My best, Bill”) The dwarf planet already has three named moons — Hydra, Nix and Charon. Like the name Pluto, they […]
Feb. 21, 2013 | 4:56 p.m.

Incredible NASA video of hot plasma raining down on the sun

Talk about real-world special effects: NASA has just released stunning video of a “coronal rain,”  a solar phenomenon in which hot plasma appears to rain down in great arches onto the surface of the sun. What you see in the video is actually three types of eruptive events: A solar flare — a sudden eruption that causes a flash of electromagnetic radiation and light; a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is when the sun sends some of its matter shooting out into space; and finally, the dazzling coronal rain that occurs when the super hot plasma that rose  into the sun’s atmosphere begins to cool and trace strong magnetic fields back to the surface of the sun. Solar flares, CMEs and even coronal rains are not so unusual, said Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.  But it […]
Feb. 14, 2013 | 2:48 p.m.

Asteroid to fly by Earth on Friday: See it now

As asteroid 2012 DA14 continues to zoom ever closer to Earth, astronomers are releasing new images of the space rock, giving us a preview of what’s coming our way. One of our favorites is the animated image above, which shows the asteroid moving across the sky. The asteroid is the blob of light in the center of the image. That streak of light off to the right is a satellite that got in the way, a spokesperson for JPL told the Los Angeles Times. The data for the  animated image above was collected by the Faulkes Telescope South in Siding Springs, Australia, and animated by astronomers at the Remanzacco Observatory in Italy. It was taken Thursday, when the asteroid was still 465,000 miles away from Earth. At its closest approach Friday at about 11:25 a.m. PST, scientists say the asteroid […]
Feb. 12, 2013 | 4:12 p.m.

Asteroid flyby on Friday: Where and when to watch it online

An asteroid half  the size of a football field will come zipping past Earth at an almost uncomfortably close distance on Friday, and you can watch it online. If you were hoping to just crane your neck skyward and watch the space rock fly by overhead, think again: Though NASA scientists say this is the first time in recorded history that an asteroid this large will fly this close to Earth,  it will still appear too small to see with the naked eye. People in the Eastern Hemisphere may be able to spot the asteroid zoom by with the help of strong binoculars or a small telescope, but here in the Western Hemisphere, it will be nearly impossible to see it even with these visual aids because its closest approach will take place during daylight hours. Asteroid flyby: Call off […]
Feb. 07, 2013 | 9:04 a.m.

Countdown to asteroid flyby: Watch as experts discuss the flyby

Heart rates are picking up among scientists and sci-fi lovers alike as a huge asteroid prepares to swing by Earth next week. Sky watchers who are on the edge of their seats can watch a live NASA media teleconference live Thursday at 11 a.m. PST, when experts will talk about our upcoming encounter with the 150-foot-diameter flying object. Even better, you can watch a Ustream feed of the flyby provided by a NASA telescope at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama.  That stream will be broadcast from 6 to 9 p.m. PST on Feb 15.  During the feed, NASA says, tweeters can send their questions to researchers. As Hero Complex reported Wednesday, the asteroid will come hurtling toward Earth on Feb. 15.  NASA officials said Asteroid 2012 DA14 would come within “a remarkably close distance” of Earth. But the […]
Jan. 12, 2013 | 7:30 a.m.

‘Star Wars’: Obama White House says no to Death Star petition

Whether you voted for Barack Obama or Mitt Romney, it’s good to know the president isn’t a Sith Lord. After more than 34,000 people petitioned the White House to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016,” the White House released an official statement cleverly titled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For,” rejecting Darth Vader’s weapon of choice. “The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” wrote Paul Shawcross, chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. “Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?” PHOTOS: ‘Star Wars’ at the box office The response also rebuffs the petitioners’ notion that a Death Star would be a smart economic move; any […]
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