This week brought confusing news on the legal status of research animals, as a judge in New York state seemed to grant two chimps legal personhood and then revoke it the next day.
New York Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jaffe signed an order on April 20 requiring Stony Brook University to respond to claims by the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) that two research chimpanzees, Hercules and Leo, were being unlawfully detained. The NhRP then claimed that by this action the judge had implicitly granted the chimps legal personhood, because the document, called a writ of habeas corpus, can only be granted to a person in New York state.
However, after extensive media coverage on April 21, Jaffe amended the order, letting arguments on the detention of the chimps go forward but removing the words WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS from the top of the document.
Sorry, chimps. As far as legal status, cats really do seem to have it better. In 2012, Hank the cat ran for the senate in Virginia, while in 2011, a cat in Italy inherited $156 million. Power. Money. Noms and naps. What next, kittehs?
Coffee’s here! SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft made its rendezvous with the International Space Station yesterday, delivering food, scientific experiments and other supplies, including the first espresso machine in space.
The machine, called ISSPresso, was produced as a joint venture between the Italian coffee company Lavazza, the engineering firm Argotec and the Italian Space Agency. Lavazza, which expects the machine to operate for several years in orbit, will supply the ISS with capsules of coffee year round, so they never run out – a good plan if they want any science to get done up there!
The honor of brewing the first espresso in space will go to Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who has somehow been surviving on instant coffee until now.
(Our caffeine-deprived space kitty was originally designed by Ben Ducker for British company O2)
It’s Pi Day! Today’s date, 3.14.15, rolls around only once every 100 years, making it an even more special Pi Day than usual. In fact, at exactly 9:26:53 AM, the date and time will describe pi to 10 digits (π = 3.141592653). Since it’s Caturday, you may have slept in and missed it. But don’t worry, you can still celebrate by doing geometry problems, eating pie, and reading about why Josh thinks Pi Day should fall in February.
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.
Much of the central and eastern US has experienced record low temperatures over the past week, around 40 degrees below seasonal norms. Just how cold is it? Let’s ask this cat.