|November 22, 2013||On The Horizon.||2 comments|
|November 08, 2013||We're Still Here.||2 comments|
|October 12, 2013||Caturday Shutdown.||no comments|
|October 06, 2013||What, Me Worry?||1 comments|
|September 14, 2013||Caturday On The Down Low.||2 comments|
|September 14, 2013||What Is He Smoking?||1 comments|
|September 08, 2013||NFL WEEK 1: Gonna Need Coffee (With Irish Cream?)||3 comments|
|September 07, 2013||Rainy Day Caturday.||2 comments|
|August 31, 2013||Caturday: Labor Day Weekend Edition.||2 comments|
|August 30, 2013||Cat Got Your Tongue?||5 comments|
If we're lucky, then in just a few days time we could witness one of the most spectacular sights in the night sky for a generation or more.
Astronomers hope that on 3 December a comet will appear on the eastern horizon - Comet Ison.
For the whole month of December, millions of people across the northern hemisphere should be able to see its tail, which is several millions of kilometres long, stretching across the dawn sky.
Ison has come from the Oort cloud, a belt of comets on the very edge of the Solar System, where it has been for the last 4.6 billion years.
What makes Ison so special is that it is a "sungrazer". Many comets pass through the Solar System every decade, but very few go through the corona of the Sun. Ison will do just that.
Its passage through the corona, which happens on 28 November, will be watched with great interest by astronomers across the world.
It's not known exactly what effect the great heat and gravitational force of our Sun will have on the comet.
Dr Matthew Knight, from the Lowell Observatory in Arizona, has been watching the comet for the last year and has worked out three scenarios to describe what Ison might do in the coming week.
Scenario one: It could suffer the same fate as Comet Lovejoy, which went around the Sun in autumn 2011.
The gravity of the sun pulled one side of the comet's nucleus more strongly than the other, stretching it apart.
As Lovejoy emerged from the corona it exploded. Whether this will happen to Ison depends on its size. A nucleus of two kilometres or under puts it at great risk. Astronomers estimate that Ison is almost exactly two kilometres, so it's right on the borderline.
In scenario two, Ison might behave like Comet Encke. This comet has orbited the Sun about 70 times since it was first observed a few centuries ago.
It is fast using up its ice and gasses and is fizzling out. Although Ison is only going to pass the Sun once, Dr Knight fears it could suffer the same fate.
Then there is the third scenario, the one many people will be hoping for. This is what happened to Comet Ikeya-Seki in 1965.
As the comet went through the sun's corona, the heat ignited the gases deep in its nucleus and a few days after it emerged from the corona, a huge tail had developed behind it. Millions of people were thrilled by the great spectacle.
If Ison puts on a stunning display as Ikeya Seki did, then it will also help scientists answer some of the great questions about our origins. Since 1965, telescopes and imaging technology have advanced enormously.
Spectrometry will allow astrochemists to analyse the chemical composition of the ices in Ison and from that data try to work out how the Solar System formed 4.6 billion years ago.
They might even be able to study its water signature, to provide crucial data informing the argument about whether our water came to Earth on comets, or accretion from below our planet's surface.
There is even a chance that scientists will observe the chemical precursors of amino acids. These amino acids are the molecules that form the building blocks of life.
Experiments in the laboratories at Nasa Ames, in northern California, have shown that these building blocks of life can be created in the hostile environment of a comet's nucleus. Could comets be the agents that transport these building blocks across the cosmos?
Everybody can now follow the comet's progress on the internet. Here's hoping that Ison will be talked about for years to come - as the comet of the century.
By Charles Colville -
Texas Republicans overwhelmingly favor Sen. Ted Cruz as Presidential candidate in the 2016 election, while at the same time 50 percent of Texans say he has been bad for the state’s reputation.
The left-leaning Public Policy Polling (PPP) revealed on Thursday the conflicting view Texans have on the freshman Senator. Cruz is currently the first choice for presidential candidate in 2016 election among most Texas Republicans, leading with an overwhelming 32 percent.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush follows Cruz with only 13 percent, Chris Christie the newly re-elected governor of New Jersey ranks third with 10 percent, Kentucky Congressman Rand Paul with 6 percent, and Texas Governor Rick Perry is at the very bottom with 3 percent.
On the other hand, 50 percent of Texans believe that Cruz has made their state reputation worse, while 37 percent said he has made it better. Among independents, Cruz has fared slightly worse with 58 percent saying he has been bad, and 36 percent saying he has been good for Texas image. Unsurprisingly, the numbers are far worse for Cruz when it comes to Texan Democrats, where 75 percent thinks he has brought embarrassment to the state.
Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling, said the numbers show a disconnect between how Republicans feel about Cruz, compared to everyone else.
“Although Texas Republicans certainly love Cruz and that’s why he leads the GOP field, both independents and Democrats strongly feel that he has brought the state embarrassment,” Jensen said, adding that these numbers represent what PPP has been seeing across the country in their polling.
“Cruz is a beloved figure among Republicans but reviled by pretty much everyone else,” Jensen said.
Similar results can be found in the YouGov/Huffington Post survey that was released October 18th. According to this survey, 18 percent of Americans answered that they had “very favorable” views towards Cruz, only 3 percent of those people had Democratic party affiliations, while 40 percent were Republicans. At the same time, there were 34 percent who had very unfavorable feelings on Cruz, 53 percent were Democrats, and 9 percent Republicans.
The statistics showed that American men were generally more favorable towards Cruz, compared to women. Older people were also more likely to respond positively to Cruz than younger people.
By Nora Lindtner -
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) rejected the suggestion that members of his own party are unhappy with him for pursuing a fight over Obamacare into a government shutdown.
Asked by host Candy Crowley whether his actions have "hurt the Republican Party brand," Ted Cruz said no.
"Not remotely, but I also think far too many people are worried about politics" in the shutdown fight, Cruz said.
Cruz repeated several times his claim that he didn't want the government to shut down, and he bemoaned the "nasty partisan jabs from Democrats" over his role in the shutdown.
By Matt Sledge -