Really, who needs science when you’ve got dragons? But if you want both, check out this article by Marc Lallanilla all about the science of Game of Thrones, including handy explainers on incest, wildfire, and never-ending seasons.
This week, astronomers made two exciting discoveries: the first is a ring system surrounding an asteroid named Chariklo, which orbits in a region between Saturn and Uranus. This surprising finding makes Chariklo’s the fifth known ring system in our solar system , joining Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Saturn, and the first known to have formed around an asteroid.
The second major find is a distant, icy dwarf planet in the far reaches of the solar system, 7.5 billion miles from the sun. The object, officially known as 2012 VP113, measures about 280 miles across. It’s extremely cold with a temperature of around minus 430 degrees Fahrenheit and is reported by astronomers to be faint and pink, making it hard to detect.
Our thanks to Kibbles kitteh and Mr. Boots for playing the roles of Chariklo and VP113 so graciously.
The vernal equinox on March 20 marked the official arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere. And after the harsh winter that many of us experienced this year, it arrived none too soon.
Only if you want to, kitty! Relax and enjoy the first Caturday of spring.
lolcats via Cheezburger.com
It’s always exciting when scientists discover a new dinosaur, especially if it’s a cute little one. As Brian Switek reported in National Geographic’s Phenomena this week, paleontologists Anthony Fiorillo and Ronald Tykoski have named a smallish tyrannosaur that once lived in the Arctic.
The scientists gave the dino the name Nanuqsaurus hoglundi –combining the Iñupiaq word for polar bear and a philanthropist named Forrest Hoglund. The incomplete skeleton unearthed in northern Alaska indicates that, although Nanuqsaurus was likely fairly closely related to Tyrannosaurus rex, it was much smaller, around 25 feet in length compared to 40 for a T. rex.
Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of the recent discovery: photographic evidence (above) indicates that some traits of Nanuqsaurus may have somehow veered from their branch of the phylogenetic tree and taken up residence in cats, rather than birds. We await further study.
Liek Dinos? Brian Switek’s ossim book, My Beloved Brontosaurus, is just out in paperback. You can haz.
In the headlines this week: 16th century rocket cats. That’s right, experts recently revealed that a military manual dating from around 1530 imagined the use of cats and birds as weapons of war, with gunpowder-filled “jet packs” strapped to their backs to set fire to enemy castles or cities.
According to this article in The Guardian, the academics studying the manuscript believe that cats would be poor weapons. Given their preference for staying close to home and doing pretty much as they please, a gunpowder-toting kitty would be more likely to set fire to his master’s camp than to go near a strange castle.
However, the photo above, obtained from a top-sekrit source, indicates that some testing of rocket cats may have been carried on long after castle walls fell, and may indeed be going on to this day.
Image via cheezburger.com