Comet ISON will barrel past Mars next week on its way toward a close encounter with the sun that has had scientists and skywatchers buzzing for a year. Comet ISON will fly by Mars today (October 1), then gear up for a close solar approach that will bring the icy wanderer within 724,000 miles of the sun's surface on November 28. If ISON manages to stay in one piece, it could put on a memorable sky show around that time. Astronomers say Comet ISON has the potential to join 1996's Comet Hyakutake and 1997's Hale-Bopp as one of the brightest "Great Comets" in history.
... Why is it called ISON? Russians Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok are credited with first photographing ISON using a 15.7-inch reflecting telescope of the International Scientific Optical Network, or ISON, when it was still far, far away. Their initial snapshot is dated September 21, 2011.
... By the end of this month (October), ISON should be visible to anyone with a pair of binoculars and might even be viewable with the naked eye. Over the course of November, the comet will truly come into its own, and should brighten up dramatically as it races toward the sun.
Dorothy Peel celebrated her 111th birthday over the weekend. Drinking has helped the UK woman live a long life, she says. And smoking too. “I drank regularly throughout the day. In the morning I had half a pint of sherry, for lunch a gin and tonic and around 7pm a small ginger ale with a bit of whiskey. These days I just have a sherry now and again.” She's smoked about a pack a day for most of her life: “I decided to pack in smoking when I was 103 because I got bronchitis and the doctor warned me my life was in danger! I used to smoke 20 a day but not any more. I have been tempted to have the odd cig at Christmas or New Year along with pink champagne, which is my favorite drink of all time.”
... But there’s another ingredient to Peel’s longevity. She hasn’t been worn down by the endless drama and stress that inevitably come with starting a family: “I think not having had kids has helped. That’s probably why I look and feel so good.”
Parents weren’t psyched about their 2-year-old daughters dressing up as a “naughty leopard.” Walmart shoppers recently noticed the somewhat troubling costume in the children’s section of the store’s Halloween aisles. Some have argued that the costume itself is not “sexy” and doesn’t sexualize the little girls who wear it. But the box said "naughty leopard" and, well, the Internet took over. So Walmart has dumped the costume.
Pennies. We're forced to use them, even though no one likes them. (Well, except 5-year-olds who think a handful will buy a new car.) Since the U.S. government won't phase out pennies, someone had the idea to privatize a ban on them. It's a simple, smart idea and it might make the goobers in Washington D.C. take notice. Very simply, business post signs that read something like, "We've banned pennies. All sales will be rounded down to the nearest nickel." So if your morning coffee and donut ring up at $4.97 you're charged $4.95.
In Tulsa County, Oklahoma, Joshua Snow saw someone burgling his car outside his house. He grabbed his gun and ran out wearing nothing but his boxers. Apparently, in the process of chasing off the burglars, Joshua knocked on a neighbor’s front door. Seeing an armed man in his underwear on his doorstep, the neighbor reached for his shotgun. Seeing the neighbor reach for his gun, Joshua fired a shot. No one was injured and no charges have been filed. Oh, and the burglars escaped.
After the International Design Conference in Colorado ended in 1983, the organizers decided to put a time capsule together. Because Steve Jobs presented at the conference, he contributed the Lisa computer mouse to the capsule, which then became known as the "Steve Jobs Time Capsule". Although it was supposed to be dug up in 2000, organizers could not pinpoint its exact location as the field had undergone some landscaping. Yet, all of that changed last Thursday when archeologists, who were part of the National Geographic show Diggers, finally unearthed this lost capsule. As the mouse was buried deep within the capsule, the team had to wait for some time before they could actually get at it -- but even after being excavated, the archaeological team is unsure if the mouse still works because Jobs had not buried the computer with it.
... A Kodak Instamatic camera, VHS tapes of the conference, a rotary telephone, and a six pack of beer were also found in the capsule.
370 passengers were stranded in Australia Sunday night after a snake was found on a Qantas plane at Sydney airport. The 8-inch Mandarin rat snake was found by cabin crew in the Boeing 747 plane before passengers boarded on Sunday. This species of snake is commonly found in Asia. Adults can grow to more than four feet long. It's not clear how the snake got on the flight from Singapore, but it's harmless and poses no threat to humans. Instead of arriving in Tokyo, as scheduled, the stranded passengers spent the night in hotels in Sydney. A replacement flight left for Tokyo on Monday morning.
Larry Bird's Naples, Florida, mansion is for sale. The best part is that the real estate listing actually includes the basketball hoop as one of the main features: "The four-bedroom waterfront house has 6,000 square feet of living space, a 500-gallon, saltwater aquarium, a basketball hoop and a 10-seat state-of-the-art home theater." The hoop is located out on the driveway which, of course, is where the average joe puts his.