Is Jupiter's Great Red Spot becoming just a red dot?

May 16, 2014

The Great Red Spot on Jupiter might one day be the Average Red Spot; NASA says it's shrinking at a rate of 580 miles a year, the distance between Chicago and Washington, D.C.

For at least 400 years, NPR says, the anticyclonic vortex has been churning in the atmosphere of the planet, a gigantic storm that is big enough to engulf three Earths. As it gets smaller, the shape begins to shift as well, and by 2040 it could become circular. In 1979, the Great Red Spot was 14,500 miles across, in 1995 it was 13,020 miles across, and by 2009 it was down to 11,130 miles across. Now, it's 10,250 miles along the east-west axis.

NASA hypothesizes that the Great Red Spot is shrinking because "very small eddies are feeding into the storm." Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center adds that the eddies are possibly "altering the internal dynamics and energy of the Great Red Spot." Simon and the rest of her team will study the eddies and the storm's internal dynamics to get to the bottom of "this yet unexplained shrinkage."

casting call

Emma Watson will play Belle in a live-action Beauty and the Beast remake

11:42am ET
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Disney's live-action remake of the 1991 animated classic Beauty and the Beast has found its Belle. Emma Watson, best known for playing Hermione in the Harry Potter series, will star in the film.

Waston confirmed the news of her casting on her own Facebook page. "I'm finally able to tell you... that I will be playing Belle in Disney's new live-action Beauty and the Beast!" she wrote. "It was such a big part of my growing up, it almost feels surreal that I'll get to dance to 'Be Our Guest' and sing 'Something There.' My six year old self is on the ceiling — heart bursting. Time to start some singing lessons. I can't wait for you to see it."

After the box-office successes of recent movies like 2010's Alice in Wonderland and last year's Maleficent, Disney has been busily mining its animated history for new live-action films. A live-action adaptation of Cinderella is bound for theaters in March.

Coming soon to a computer near you

The NFL is finally launching a YouTube channel

11:11am ET
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For years, as other professional sports leagues made highlight reels and clips readily available for fans to consume online, the NFL maintained a tight grip on its video stash. That will soon change, as the NFL on Monday announced it would be launching a YouTube channel to host game action, interviews, and clips from the NFL Network.

The move is part of a broader multimillion dollar deal with Google, which owns YouTube, that will give the tech giant the right to host the NFL Network. Under the deal, Google will also prominently feature NFL videos in its search results.

Death and taxes

IRS insists living man is dead — but still takes his money

11:02am ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Siegfried Meinstein of Upper Arlington, Ohio, is 94 years old, but he is definitely still alive. But since April of last year, the IRS has insisted the World War II vet is dead, despite all evidence to the contrary, including the eyewitness account of an IRS agent.

Originally the Meinstein family thought the problem may have originated with the Social Security Administration, which mistakenly decides about 1,000 people are dead each year. Yet though the SSA is actually well aware that Meinstein is still alive, the IRS refuses to back down. In the meantime, the agency continues to cash Meinstein's checks.

"If they keep insisting, what is it you say?" said Meinstein's son, Ron. "'Eventually, they'll be right?'"

don't mess with texas

BLS: Texas is responsible for most new jobs since 2007

10:48am ET

Employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Texas Workforce Commission indicates that Texas alone is responsible for the net job growth of the last seven years. While the other 49 states plus the District of Columbia have seen a 0.2 percent decline in available employment, Texas has added more than 1.4 million new positions:


While the oil industry has contributed significantly to the job boom in Texas, other areas of work — like construction, finance, mining, and office work — are surging in the Lone Star State.


Study: Many breast cancer patients don't understand the disease

10:38am ET

A new study from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston found that many breast cancer patients don't understand what, exactly, the disease's characteristics are.

The study, published Monday in the journal Cancer, surveyed 500 women with breast cancer. The researchers found that only 20 to 58 percent of the women understood the tumor stage, grade, and type of tumor with which they were diagnosed. African-American and Hispanic women in particular didn't correctly identify their tumor characteristics.

Rachel Freedman, author of the study, said that patients not understanding breast cancer makes it harder for them to follow their treatment plans and make informed medical decisions. Freedman noted that the study "identified a critical need for improved patient education and provider awareness" about breast cancer.

This just in

Secret Service hunting for suspects after quadcopter drone crashes on White House lawn

10:10am ET

The Secret Service has confirmed that a small drone quadcopter crashed inside the White House compound early Monday morning.

The administration is searching for suspects or a motive, but White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says the incident "does not pose any sort of ongoing threat." President Obama is in India as part of an international swing.

The incident comes one month after a report faulted the Secret Service for a range of lax behavior and called for the construction of a taller fence around the White House.


Restoration work reveals seat numbers at Rome's Colosseum

9:55am ET

The ancient Romans may not have had the ease of StubHub, but a new discovery has revealed that even the Colosseum had organized seat numbers.

The Colosseum is currently undergoing a $33 million restoration to repair the damage it's endured over the last 2,000 years. During the restoration work, curators discovered traces of red paint numbers on the entrance gate arches.

The numbers are "similar to today's stadium seating systems," according to Discovery News. Researchers believe the Romans used red paint so the numbers would be visible from a distance. The seating plan regulated the Colosseum's 76 public entrances and four levels of seating.

"The 50,000 spectators had a ticket that said which numbered gate arch they were supposed to enter," monument director Rossella Rea explained to Discovery News. "Inside the arena, there were other numbers to help people access their seats, which were assigned according to social class."

Numbers don't lie

A majority of Americans think God rewards pious athletes

9:47am ET

Most Americans are inclined to have literal faith in a Hail Mary pass, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute.

In the poll, 53 percent of Americans (and 56 percent of sports fans) said they believed God "rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success." More specifically, about one-quarter said they think God plays a direct role in determining which team wins a given sporting event.

Yasiel Puig (pictured below) would seem to agree. —Jon Terbush

This just in

Malaysia Airlines website hacked by ISIS supporters

8:54am ET

Malaysia Airlines confirmed Monday that its website had been "compromised," but it said that no customer data was at risk.

On Sunday night, the website displayed the message "ISIS will prevail" and a fake "404" page reading "Plane not Found." Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which disappeared last March, has yet to be found.

Other "404" messages on the site featured a lizard wearing a top hat and a monocle. The "Lizard Squad" hacker group, which refers to itself as the "Cyber Caliphate," has taken responsibility for the attack on Malaysia Airlines' website. The Lizard Squad Twitter account accused Malaysia Airlines of "lying," saying that customer data had indeed been compromised.

Malaysia Airlines released a statement on its Facebook page asserting that "user data remains secured."


French court forbids parents from naming daughter 'Nutella'

8:03am ET

A French court has ruled that a couple's decision to name their child "Nutella" was "contrary to the child's interest." The court also ruled the same for another child who had been named "Strawberry."

The Valenciennes court renamed the child formerly known as "Nutella," giving her the name "Ella" when her parents failed to show up at a court date in November. The baby was born in September, according to French newspaper La Voix Du Nord.

The court noted that "Nutella" is "the trade name of a spread," and naming a child "Nutella" would "only lead to teasing or disparaging thoughts."

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