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Science Caturday: Laser Cats from Ceres


This week, the NASA spacecraft Dawn captured a stunning image of Ceres, a dwarf planet between Mars and Jupiter.

Earlier pictures from Dawn had shown a bright spot on the surface, and as the spacecraft got closer, another was revealed. Experts are speculating on the cause of the mysterious lights, but we’re pretty sure that one of the kitties on Ceres accidentally left his high beams on.  Set to stun, Fluffy. We come in peace.

Science Caturday: Hot Take on Climate Change


Both the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released reports this week naming 2014 as the world’s warmest year. According to the NOAA report, the average temperature was up 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit over the 20th century average across all land and ocean surfaces.

NASA’s Gavin Schmidt said that greenhouse gases are responsible for the long-term warming trends, and that even if the entire world stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, it still would take many years to stall the rising temperatures. But we better get on it soon! It looks as though some kittehs are already beginning to melt.

Science Caturday: Teh Resolution Solution


Every January, they arrive like clockwork – articles telling us why it’s so very hard to stick with New Year’s resolutions. (Here’s a pretty good one on Quartz, if you’re interested in some of the psychology behind making and keeping them.) To make it easier, We’ll just supply a few resolutions for you: In addition to the two excellent ideas above, please resolve to click on The Finch & Pea more often in 2015. We, in turn, resolve to make it worth your while.

Science Caturday: Tourists Bring Unwanted Gifts


Oh noooo, a new article in The Atlantic says that the huge increase in the numbers of visitors to Antarctica in recent years may be making the penguins sick.

A team led by Wray Grimaldi of the University of Otago in New Zealand found multiple infectious agents, including Salmonella and E. coli bacteria and West Nile virus in captive penguins dating back to 1947. A paper based on the team’s work published this month in the journal Polar Biology (paywall) reports that outbreaks of disease from those pathogens have killed thousands of penguins over the years.

I sure hope our intrepid polar explorer kitteh didn’t bring along any toxoplasmosis from home.

The Art of Science: A Tragic Beauty

Brandon Ballengee Collapse, 2012 mixed-media installation

Brandon Ballengee
Collapse, 2012
mixed-media installation

A must-see for sciart lovers, Brandon Ballengée’s installation Collapse is on display at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, DC until March 20, 2015.

Collapse was created in 2012 in response to the devastating effects on the marine food chain following the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Simple, beautiful and devastating, the installation consists of a pyramid of gallon jars containing hundreds of preserved fish and other aquatic organisms. Empty containers – and there are many – represent species in decline or those already lost the extinction. A written appendix gives details on all the species represented in Collapse.

In conjunction with the exhibition, the NAS will hold an evening event on Thursday, December 11, on the topic of Art and Ecology. Speakers include Brandon Ballengée, developmental biologist Benjamin Dubansky, Ariel Trahan of the Anacostia Watershed Society, and Kim Waddell, senior program officer of the NAS’s Gulf Research Program.  (More details here)