Science Caturday: Nautical Naughty Cat

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Despite heavy competition, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen emerged as obnoxious billionaire of the week, amid reports that his 300-foot luxury yacht destroyed 14,000 square feet of protected coral reef near the Cayman Islands.

According to the Cayman News Service, the anchor chain of Allen’s yacht, the MV Tatoosh, caused “extensive damage” to the reef earlier this month. The incident comes just five months after Allen announced that he would provide funds for research to “stabilize and restore coral reefs” through his Seattle-based company, Vulcan.

A spokesman for Vulcan said Wednesday that the boat’s mooring position was “explicitly directed” by the local port authority and that Allen was not on board at the time. It added that Vulcan and the ship’s crew had immediately moved the ship from the affected area and were “actively and cooperatively working with local authorities to determine the details of what happened.”

Well, OK…but still, bad billionaire! Coral is precious. Fat Cats should be more careful.

Art of Science: Frozen Fractals All Around

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A Sierpinski Triangle by Simon Beck

In the wake of snowstorm Jonas, the east coast of the US has been consumed with snow math – counting up the number of inches that fell, the miles of roads plowed, and the days of work lost – but that’s basic arithmetic compared to Simon Beck’s advanced snow mathematics.

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A Mandelbrot Set in progress

For more than a decade, Beck has made elaborate designs in snow, mainly in the French Alps, using only snowshoes and a compass. He started out making mandala-like circular shapes, but moved on to much more complex designs over the years. Beck told Discovery News that he started incorporating fractal patterns into his work after reading James Gleick’s book “Chaos: Making a New Science.”

Each image takes him up to 11 hours to make, as he walks 25-30 miles to make a design of about 100 meters square.  Beck says that he started making snow art mainly as a form of exercise, but it has now become his life’s work. You can see much more at his website.

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Sierpinski Circle by Simon Beck

The natural predators of Mus creampuffus are, well, everyone, which explains the wide-eyed look of anxiety #finchstagram

Photo by Josh Witten (CC BY-NC-SA) via Instagram http://ift.tt/1K5fexL

Science Caturday: Gas Giant? Sounds liek a doggy planet

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Caltech astronomers, including Mike “Pluto Killer” Brown, announced this week that they have strong evidence for a ninth planet in our solar system. “Planet 9” as they call it, is a gas giant 5,000 times bigger than Pluto and billions of miles farther away.

The catch: nobody has actually seen Planet 9 yet. The astronomers reported their research, based on mathematical and computer modeling, in The Astronomical Journal this week. They anticipate its discovery via telescope within five years or less, and they want help.

“We could have stayed quiet and quietly spent the next five years searching the skies ourselves and hoping to find it. But I would rather somebody find it sooner, than me find it later,” Brown told The Associated Press. “I want to see it. I want to see what it looks like. I want to understand where it is, and I think this will help.”

Well OK then! Space kittehs, to your telescopes! There are new planets to be found.

 

 

Art of Science: Jantje Visscher’s Kuiper Belt

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Jantje Visscher, Kuiper Belt, 2015, Light Sculpture

The Kuiper Belt is a vast region of space filled with “small bodies”, icy remnants of the formation of the Solar System made of compounds like methane, ammonia and water. It is also home to everyone’s favorite dwarf planet, Pluto.

Artist Jantje Visscher made a light sculpture inspired by images of the Kuiper Belt and the idea of microwaves dancing in outer space, created when the Big Bang occurred. The piece is made from drawings etched into silvery Mylar sheets that bounce light from an overhead fixture onto the wall.

Simple, beautiful and dazzling, Kuiper Belt invites viewers to reflect on the existence of celestial bodies almost unfathomably old and distant, now brought closer by both art and technology.

You can see more of Jantje Visscher’s work here.