August 26, 2014

Astronomers have reportedly discovered signs of water clouds 7.3 light-years away from Earth.

The water clouds would be the first to be found beyond our solar system, if the discovery is confirmed. The findings will be published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Kevin Luhman, an astronomer at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, found the clouds with images taken from 2010 to 2011 by NASA's WISE infrared telescope. The clouds surround a brown dwarf — a.k.a. a "failed star" that has faded and cooled — named WISE J0855-0714. WISE J0855-0714 is the coldest brown dwarf known to scientists, with a temperature lower than water's freezing point.

"I've been obsessed with this object since its discovery," Jacqueline Faherty, an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., told Science magazine. "I'm absolutely elated." Faherty used Chile's Magellan Baade telescope to capture images that matched previous models of a brown dwarf with water clouds.

The evidence is still tentative, but scientists are fascinated with the discovery's implications. If water clouds are confirmed outside our solar system, the findings could provide astronomers with new information about space's atmospheres. Science reports that the brown dwarf will likely be explored further by NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, which is in the assembly and test process. --Meghan DeMaria

12:15 a.m. ET

At fairs across the United States this summer, people will be eating some unusual food, but it looks like the Orange County Fair in Southern California will take the deep-fried cake when it comes to offering artery-clogging delicacies.

Vendor Chicken Charlie's — the purported inventor of the deep fried Oreo — is taking the ironic route by deep frying a Slim Fast bar, then topping it with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. They will also serve up a pickle filled with peanut butter, dipped in corn dog batter, then fried. For those who enjoy mixing the highbrow with the low, there's the pièce de résistance: a $125 Twinkie topped with one ounce of caviar. "I'm a big seafood guy," Chicken Charlie's owner Charlie Boghosian told the Daily Pilot. "About a year ago, I tasted my first caviar and I liked it. Since then, whenever caviar came up, I wanted to taste it, learn it."

Chicken Charlie’s doesn't have the monopoly on fried foods, though. Another vendor, Apple Fries, will sell the Deep Fried Birthday Cake (yellow cake fried in a sweet batter, topped with whipped cream and sprinkles) and Deep Fried Pizza (a slice of pepperoni or cheese, dipped in a beer batter, fried, and served with a side of ranch dressing). What will they think of next? Catherine Garcia

12:12 a.m. ET

On Friday, after the Supreme Court recognized a constitutional right to same-sex civil marriage nationwide, rainbows sprouted everywhere — gay-rights celebrations nationwide, the White House, Niagara Falls, the Empire State Building, the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, probably your Facebook feed, and even in the mist from the water cannons Turkish police used to break up a gay pride parade on Sunday. But how did the rainbow become the symbol for gay rights?

A man named Gilbert Baker designed a rainbow flag for a gay pride parade in San Francisco in the 1970s, and it stuck, Time explains in the video below. Each color originally meant something, and you can listen to Baker explain why he chose a rainbow below. Peter Weber

June 29, 2015

Researchers have found that people who drink copious amounts of orange juice or eat a lot of grapefruit could be raising their risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

In the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the researchers say that grapefruit and oranges contain compounds called furocoumarins and psoralen. Furocoumarins make the skin more sensitive to sunlight, and furocoumarins and psoralen cause melanoma cells to multiply when exposed to ultraviolet light. The team looked at more than 40,000 men participating in the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study and more than 60,000 women in the Nurses' Health Study, and found that the risk of melanoma was very low, with fewer than 2 percent ending up with melanoma over the course of 25 years.

For those who ate or drank at least 1.6 six-ounce servings of citrus fruit or juice daily, the risk of getting melanoma was 36 percent higher compared to those who consumed them less than twice a week. Researchers looked at other factors, like smoking, but didn't find any other connections. "That was our first thought, that people who live in Florida and California were out in the sun more and eating more citrus," Dr. Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health told NBC News. "But that did not turn out to be the case." While researchers aren’t saying to cut back on citrus just yet, they do urge people to always wear sunscreen. Catherine Garcia

show them the money
June 29, 2015
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Obama administration could announce as early as Tuesday that it plans to expand overtime eligibility for millions of Americans by 2016.

The 1938 law that established the federal 40-hour workweek exempts professional, administrative, and executive employees from overtime pay requirements. Under the draft rules, a person classified as a manager or professional who earns $970 a week or less and works more than 40 hours would have to earn overtime pay, an administration official told Bloomberg. Retail workers and restaurant employees are the most likely to be affected. "You would be hard pressed to find a rule change or an executive order that would reach more middle class workers than this one," says Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden and senior fellow at the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Catherine Garcia

Foreign affairs
June 29, 2015
WPA Pool/Getty Images

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday that the gunman behind last week's massacre in Sousse, Tunisia, declared war on Britain when he shot and killed at least 30 Britons.

Cameron said the government will provide a "full spectrum" response, including helping security forces in Tunisia track down any accomplices, The Guardian reports. Cameron said the government would not ramp up travel advisories to Tunisian coastal resorts for now, saying the killer wanted to destroy the tourist industry, which accounts for 15 percent of the country's economy. He also said that soon, his government will publish a new counter-extremism strategy that will likely ban several organizations deemed to be radical and suppress extremist messages online and on television stations.

Cameron announced that on Tuesday and Wednesday, a major exercise will take place in London to test the country's readiness for a terrorist attack. "We are a target," Cameron told BBC Radio 4's Today program. "Frankly, we cannot hide from this thinking that if you step back you become less of a target. They are attacking our way of life and what we stand for, and so we have to stand united with those that share our values." Catherine Garcia

June 29, 2015
Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images

Police in Seattle are looking for the operator of a drone that hit a woman in the head at the Seattle pride parade Sunday, knocking her out.

The two-pound drone hit the 25-year-old woman as she watched the parade, ABC News reports, causing her to collapse. She was caught by her boyfriend before she hit the ground, and an off-duty firefighter treated her at the scene. The extent of her injuries are not known.

Police are looking to speak with a man in his 20s, unshaven, with a tattoo of a woman, who was wearing a baseball cap, sunglasses, and cut-off pants during the parade. The drone was 18 square inches and retails for about $1,200. Catherine Garcia

This is terrible
June 29, 2015

The wildfire burning in and around Wenatchee, Washington, has destroyed at least 28 homes and three commercial buildings, officials said Monday.

Diane Reed, who lost her home in the fire, told The Seattle Times that her neighborhood looked "like a war zone." The Sleepy Hollow fire has burned about 3,000 acres since it broke out Sunday, state patrol spokesman Darren Wright told Reuters. Some firefighters have sustained minor injuries, he said, and several hundred homes are still under evacuation orders. Although crews have been unable to establish containment lines around the fire, overnight showers did help slow down its advance.

The cause of the fire is unknown at this point, but Janet Pearce, a spokeswoman for the state's Department of Natural Resources, said it started after several lightning strikes hit the region. Catherine Garcia

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