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Why no seasonal tornado forecast?

Tornado in Dimmitt, Texas on June 2, 1995. Image Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Tornado in Dimmitt, Texas on June 2, 1995. Image Credit: NOAA Photo Library

Every year, we get new outlooks on the upcoming hurricane season in the Atlantic. These outlooks aren’t perfect, but there’s methodology and thought that goes into them, and they are informative. Meanwhile, we never hear of an official tornado or severe weather outlook for the United States. Here’s why it would be tricky to create one.

Black holes don’t erase information

According to modern physics, any information about an astronaut entering a black hole - for example, height, weight, hair color - may be lost.  Likewise, information about he object that formed the hole, or any matter and energy entering the hole, may be lost.  This notion violates quantum mechanics, which is why it's known as the 'black hole information paradox.

According to modern physics, any information related to an astronaut entering a black hole – for example, height, weight, hair color – may be lost. This notion is known as the ‘information loss paradox’ of black holes because it violates quantum mechanics. Artist’s concept via Nature.

What happens to the information that goes into a black hole? Is it irretrievably lost? Does it gradually or suddenly leak out? Is it stored somehow? Physicists have puzzled over this question for decades, since Stephen Hawing showed that black holes gradually evaporate from the universe, taking their information with them. A new study by University of Buffalo physicists, however, shows that information going into a black hole is not lost at all.

This date in science: John Burroughs’ birthday

John Burroughs.  Image via Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

John Burroughs. Image via Wikimedia Commons/Library of Congress

April 3, 1837. John Burroughs – born on today’s date in 1837 – was one of the first naturalists who focused on communicating his love of nature through the written word. You might think you haven’t heard of Burroughs, but you’ve probably heard of some of the things he said. For example:

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.

He was one of the first to say in print:

If you think you can do it, you can.

And he said:

To me – old age is always ten years older than I am.

Spring means these 4 hibernators are waking up

Black bear. Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Black bear. Image Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

With the onset of spring in the Northern Hemisphere, animals that hibernate are waking up from a long-period of deep sleep. They spent the winter hibernating to conserve energy when food was scarce.

Nova Sagittarii observation, March 29

View larger. | Finder chart for Nova Sagittarii via Tom Wildoner.

Finder chart for Nova Sagittarii 2015 No. 2. This chart is for Tom Wildoner’s observing location in Pennsylvania, but the nova’s location with respect to these background stars will be the same from across the globe. Chart credit to Stellarium, via Tom Wildoner. Used with permission.

The brightness of this unusual nova has gone up and down and now back up again. EarthSky friend Tom Wildoner tells you how to see the nova before it’s gone!

This date in science: Biggest earthquake in North America

After the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Alaska, both human and natural areas sustained damage.

During the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake in Alaska, both human and natural areas sustained damage. A large landslide caused the damage shown here to many homes in Anchorage’s Turnagain-By-The-Sea subdivision. Image via U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Wikimedia Commons.

March 27, 1964. On this date, at 5:36 p.m. local time, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake struck in the Prince William Sound region of Alaska, causing extensive initial damage and a subsequent tsunami. In Anchorage, dozens of blocks of buildings were leveled or damaged. Valdez, closest to the epicenter, was destroyed. The quake is now known as the Good Friday Earthquake.

Dwarf planet Ceres gets place names

View larger. | Topographic map of Ceres, with quad names.  Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society created this image.  She applied quad names - announced last week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston - to a digital elevation model of Ceres.  The crater with the bright feature is right on the boundary between the Palo and Ebisu quads.  NASA / JPL / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / JohnVV / Emily Lakdawalla

View larger. | Topographic map of Ceres, with quad names. NASA / JPL / UCLA / MPS / DLR / IDA / JohnVV / Emily Lakdawalla

Emily Lakdawalla of the Planetary Society created this image after last week’s Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston. At the conference, scientists announced names for various regions (quads) on Ceres, and Lakdawalla applied those names to a digital elevation model of the little world, resulting in the image above.

Do stars make sounds?

Photo by Jason Brownlee.  Visit Jason Brownlee Design on Facebook

If only we could hear them, would the stars make a sound? Photo posted to EarthSky Facebook by Jason Brownlee.

Is there an actual harmony of the spheres? A chance discovery by a team of researchers has provided experimental evidence that stars might generate sound. They announced their discovery March 23, 2015.

When is our next Great Comet?

A night under the stars and a comet, C/1996 O1 Hale-Bopp. Owing to its orbital inclination and modest perihelion, 0.95 AU, it remained visible to the unaided eye for 18 months. (Credit: ©1997 Jerry Lodriguss / www.astropix.com)

Comet Hale-Bopp remained visible to the unaided eye for 18 months in 1996-97. Photo ©1997 Jerry Lodriguss / www.astropix.com. Used with permission.

The Southern Hemisphere has had two Great Comets recently – McNaught in 2007 and Lovejoy in 2011. But what about the Northern Hemisphere? Our last widely seen Comet was Hale-Bopp in 1996-97. Comet West in 1976 was probably our last Great Comet. When will we see our next Great Comet?

Surprise! Arctic sea ice record winter low

Here the 2015 maximum is compared to the 1979-2014 average maximum shown in yellow. A distance indicator shows the difference between the two in the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan. Image via NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

Here the 2015 maximum is compared to the 1979-2014 average maximum shown in yellow. A distance indicator shows the difference between the two in the Sea of Okhotsk north of Japan. Image via NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

The National Snow & Ice Data Center announced last week that 2014-2015’s Arctic sea ice maximum extent was the lowest yet recorded. In addition, sea ice likely hit its maximum nearly two weeks earlier than in recent decades, on February 25, 2015. It happened even as unusually cold air and stormy weather occurred across the eastern half of the United States and Canada this year.