Supernovas, the most powerful stellar explosions in the universe, may result from catastrophic nuclear explosions on dead stars, new research shows. Scientists had long theorized that such nuclear events cause some supernovas, but now researchers finally have direct evidence.
A supernova shines brightly enough to briefly outshine all the stars in its galaxy, making it visible from halfway across the universe. Such explosions are rare, only occurring within each galaxy about every 100 years.
For decades, scientists theorized that about one-quarter of all supernovas, a kind known as type Ia supernovas, involved white dwarfs, the remains of stars that cram the mass of the sun into a much smaller volume. White dwarfs are incredibly dense; just a teaspoon of matter from a white dwarf would weigh 5 tons. This gives the stars intense gravitational fields.
Researchers have suggested that when a white dwarf has a companion star, the white dwarf’s gravitational pull can strip matter off the nearby star. This can result in too much extra material on the white dwarf, eventually destabilizing it and setting off a thermonuclear chain reaction that explosively obliterates the white dwarf. However, until now, astronomers did not have direct evidence for this idea.
The favoritism at Columbine High School may have gone farther than that at any other American high school. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris once watched as the school’s state wrestling champ, Rocky Wayne Hoffschneider, shove his girlfriend into a locker. A teacher witnessed the entire incident and did nothing. Hoffschneider and four other star athletes were arrested for ransacking the Denver apartment of a 22-year-old man, according to court records. The arrests made the papers. Within days, the athletes were back at school. Nine months later they pleaded guilty and got probation.
One gnawing question is this: why was Hoffschneider even allowed at a public school? The 215 pound football player and wrestler transferred to Columbine in 1996, after being expelled from a private school for fighting. He brought with him a criminal record - a 1992 arrest for criminal mischief and 1995 arrest relating to a missing person. But since the star athlete was a juvenile, his records were sealed.
The summer before Hoffschneider came to Columbine, his girlfriend’s parents accused his mother and sister of kicking in their door one morning. The girl’s father is quoted as saying the Hoffschneider family was “was abusive and physical towards us.”
The situation was so serious, in fact, that the girl’s parents kept three of their children from attending Columbine when they learned that Hoffschneider had transferred to their children’s school.
Eric Harris’ friend Brooks Brown also tells of personal torment by athletes. According to Brown, he, Harris, and Klebold were standing outside when a carload of athletes drove by, throwing a glass bottle out of the car, which shattered at their feet. Brown remembers Klebold saying, “Don’t worry, man, it happens all the time.”
"We all hated it — hated the fact we were outcasts just simply because we weren’t in sports," Brown says. "It’s insane when you think about it, but it’s real."
Stephen Greene has had his own run-in with Hoffschneider. The athlete had been attending Columbine for less than a month when he and another football player began teasing Greene’s son, Jonathan, who is Jewish. During gym class, the two would sing songs about Hitler whenever they made a basket - all in front of the gym teacher(also Hoffschneider’s wrestling coach,) who did nothing.
The abuse didn’t stop there. Greene says, “They pinned him [Jonathan] on the ground and did ‘body twisters.’ He got bruises all over his body. Then the threats began — about setting him on fire and burning him.”
Hoffschneider was allowed to continue his football and wrestling.
In the meantime, he was building his own little group of cronies. Parent Cecelia Buckner says, “He created a tough little group of guys — probably seven or eight boys that were involved in sports, mostly football, wrestling, who began to take control of the school.”
the manuscripts of the masters: scientists
Scientists have recently discovered deep deposits of a powerful warming gas leaking into the ocean from previously hidden vents just off North America’s East Coast, kicking up underwater carbon dioxide levels. The source of the damaging gas, detailed in new research in the journal Nature Geoscience, is several hundred underwater inlets between the coasts of North Carolina and Massachusetts. Scientists think thousands of the seepage zones could lie hidden across the globe.
The bag appeared to be heavy because Eric Harris was carrying it with both hands. Cafeteria witness Sarah Slater told investigators she had observed a heavy blue duffle bag and had asked her friends sitting at the table with her friends if it belonged to any of them. She tried to move the bag out of the way with her foot, but it was too heavy, so she stepped over it instead of moving it.