Suzan Eaton

  Update The official balloting is over. The unofficial results — the winners are Vulcan and Cerberus. For all the results check out plutorocks.com. Thanks for voting! ———– P4 and P5? Surely you can come up with better names for Pluto’s newly-discovered moons. Astronomers at the SETI Institute are asking for your help. You can...

What’s the trick to making a truly satisfying hot chocolate?  It may be less about the ingredients you use and more about which mug you use to drink it.  Researchers at the Polytechnic University of Valencia and the University of Oxford conducted a study, asking people to try out several cups of hot chocolate and...

  I was surprised to recently spot gnatcatchers in my neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia.  These birds are not a typical sight in urban areas, but this is just one example of the unusual guests East Coast residents have been seeing at their feeders during the last two weeks, thanks to Sandy.  The hurricane disrupted migration...

  Residents on Alaska’s Kodiak Island were haunted last week — not by Halloween ghosts, but by the remnants of a long-ago volcanic eruption.   Ash dating back to the 1912 eruption of Novarupta was stirred up by strong winds and dry conditions along the Alaskan coast. The ash rose as high as 4,000 feet...

Oh, to be counted among the nimbus and the stratus! That’s what the fans of the undulatus aspertus want.  The undulatus cloud, which resembles agitated waves, was first discovered in 1951 but has not yet been recognized as an official cloud type.   The undulatus drew attention in 2009 when a dramatic photo of one taken...

  Houses and buildings weren’t the only things hit hard by last month’s hurricane.  One of the Gulf Coast’s most notorious invasive species got slammed by Isaac. Almost 20,000 nutria, or copyu, were drowned and washed up on the Mississippi coast following the storm. These 20-pound rodents have wrecked ecological havoc along the coast for...

  Why would a bird deliberately fly into a hurricane? It seems that some migratory birds fly in so they can get a huge push coming out the other side. Researchers at the Center for Conservation Biology in Williamsburg, Virginia have been tracking migrating whimbrels. Before a storm last year, scientists attached a satellite transmitter...

Usually it doesn’t rain when the temperature gets over 100°. But last week in Needles, California a thunderstorm rolled in on a hot afternoon (115°). Most of the rain didn’t get to the ground, but it briefly made the area feel like a sauna. According to weather researcher Maximiliano Herrer, Needles sets a new world...

  How does one make a sand castle that is strong enough for those extra crenellations? By using the correct mix of sand and water. Researchers at the Amsterdam University found that a mixture of sand and one percent water is the ideal for making sand castles. Daniel Bonn, a physicist, believes with this mixture...

  What is the smell clinging to an astronaut after a spacewalk? Some have described it as an acrid aroma — others say it reminds them of seared steak.  After a 2003 mission, astronaut Don Pettit attempted to be a little more precise: The best description I can come up with is metallic; a rather...

Scientists studying moss beds in East Antarctica have found that the moss there is growing on the site of an ancient Adelie penguin colony.  The colony is believed to date back some 3,000 to 8,000 years ago.  No penguins live there now, but their droppings have been preserved, thanks to Antarctica’s constant cold temperatures.  Nitrogen...