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
Yesterday at the ScienceOnline conference, we had a great conversation led by Tara Haelle about the importance of images in science communication. Alas, the subject of lolcats did not arise, so I will address it here. Lolcats are, in fact, the key to all successful science communication. The effective deployment of lolcats is a secret scicomm weapon of mass destruction, by means of cuteness-induced head explosions (See Fig. 1 above. Boom.)
Science communicators should exercise caution when using lolcats to illustrate scientific concepts, however, because it turns out that cats are exempt from certain laws of science.
Fig. 2. Effective use of lolcat to illustrate gravity
Fig. 3. Oops.
Sorry kitties, that’s not quite how it happened. Luckily, we’ll get a refresher on the origins of the universe when the reboot of Carl Sagan’s classic Cosmos series kicks off on March 9, with new host Neil DeGrasse Tyson. In the meantime, you can read this terrific article by Joel Achenbach in Smithsonian Magazine about Sagan’s impact and legacy.
lolcat via cheezburger.com
Thousands of science kitties have gathered in Chicago this week for the AAAS Annual Meeting, where they get together to discuss the latest research on catnip addiction and hold panels on the causes of dogs’ inability to read. You can follow along on twitter with hashtag #AAASmtg or see some sessions live-streamed online.
Yayyy, training is ober, LOLympics is here for realz. Stay with the Finch and Pea as we bring you all the kitteh action from Sochi.