Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

Science News Roundup: The Happy Feet Fan Club

Leading the Science News Roundup this week is news that we choose to interpret as evidence that the World’s Most Famous Penguin is also the World’s Most Popular Penguin.

According to NPR, more than 120,000 people have logged onto the Happy Feet Cam, a webcam trained on the penguin 24/7, enabling devoted followers to witness his every chomp, snooze, and waddle.

In a comment that reminds us eerily of The Truman Show, the article reports that the hapless penguin’s snoozy foot twitches are becoming fodder for gossip on Facebook and Twitter. There’s even been a “reports of his death are greatly exaggerated” moment in which a flock of worried fans swarmed the local tv station with calls claiming that the penguin had died (turned out he was only sleeping).

All the attention has made it easier for the zoo to raise $10,000 to pay for Happy Feet’s medical care, and another $8,000 to help fund his trip home. Which we suppose would also make Happy Feet the World’s Richest Penguin.

The Happy Feet Fan Club continues below the fold with:

  • Math goes to war
  • A host of new NASA missions

Math goes to war: Many years ago, so many that I’m certain I won’t be able to quote him correctly, my brother the math professor told me that mathematics research often involves developing maths for which the application hasn’t been discovered yet. And that there is this library of not-yet-applied maths lying around somewhere just waiting for science and technology to catch up with them. I thought of that conversation this past week when I read this story about a physicist who has developed a formula for predicting insurgent attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sadly, that math didn’t have to spend any time in Math Limbo, although one hopes that its immediate application will save some lives.

NASA to tour Solar System: This week NASA announced three new robot-powered missions set to start later this year. The first, scheduled to launch this month, targets Jupiter. The largest of the planets in our solar system, scientists think that Jupiter may have also been the first to form, making it a potential treasure trove of information on how to build a planet. The second mission sends two spacecraft to fly in formation above the moon to map its surface. The final mission will be familiar to regular Caterpickles readers. It’s a third Mars rover, this one directed at the Gale Crater.

So, what about you? What caught your eye this week?

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