Science News Roundup: Bon Voyage, Happy Feet, and Hello, Cyberbugs

An Emperor Penguin dives into the water somewh...

Not Happy Feet... yet.

From Radio New Zealand comes word that Happy Feet, the Emperor Penguin who was stranded on a New Zealand beach last June, is finally on his way home in a specially designed ice crate. Despite encountering some rough sailing conditions south of New Zealand, New Zealand’s largest research vessel, the RV Tangaroa, is expected to deliver Happy Feet to more congenial (for him anyway) sub-Antarctic waters sometime today or tomorrow.  Safe travel, big guy. We at Caterpickles Central will miss you.

Don’t these people watch horror movies?: From Caterpickles Senior Contributing Editor Michael Howell comes an update on DARPA’s latest initiative.

File under “What Could Possibly Go Wrong?” … Military research agency DARPA harvests biomechanical energy to power cybernetic flying beetles.  No, seriously.  Cybernetic beetles. Flying ones. Why do they need to harvest this energy? To power the insect-mind-control devices, of course.  Seriously? Seriously. Haven’t these guys seen a single horror movie? Ever?


Actual journal article:

We at Caterpickles Central gently submit that DARPA may wish to view some of these fine titles before getting too excited about their new line of research.

So, what about you? What’s your favorite bug-based horror flick?

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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5 Responses to Science News Roundup: Bon Voyage, Happy Feet, and Hello, Cyberbugs

  1. Victoria says:

    I had a similar reaction to your Senior Contributing Editor last month when I heard about advances in cloud seeding for purposes of producing rain. One of the scientists involved hypothesized about trying to end the heat bubble over the Central US. Luckily the NOAA representative who was taking part in the discussion didn’t seem that keen on the idea. Seriously? Hasn’t anyone ready any kind of Sci-Fi/ Fantasy where someone tried to control or manipulate the weather?! It never ends well!


  2. Well, no bug-based horror flicks for me, but how about some other “what could possibly go wrong” news?

    Meat-eating robots? Check. (

    Teaching an AI to play a world-domination computer game by having it read the manual? Check. (


    • shalahowell says:

      The string of comments to this post read like a great plot for a new disaster movie — preferably one that culminates in a showdown between the mind-controlled sharks and meat-eating robots.


  3. Pingback: Science News Roundup: Raptors, Ammonites and Preschoolers, Oh My! | CATERPICKLES

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