Of Penises and Planets: On Labels in Science and Culture

Just what counts as a penis? A debate over what to call the genitals of an unusual group of cave insects has broader implications, because it gets right at the heart of science and science communication: what's the relationship between the labels we use in science and the way those labels are understood by our culture? » 4/19/14 6:50pm 4 minutes ago

New Evidence Suggests Pluto Has An Ocean Beneath Its Surface

Astronomers believe that Pluto and its moon were the result of two massive objects slamming into each other. The resulting gravitational dynamic may have warmed the interior of Pluto, creating an ocean comprised of liquid water. Remarkably, this underground sea could still be there. » 4/15/14 11:00am Tuesday 11:00am

The surface of Pluto like you've never seen it before

Using a powerful new software program called the Scientific Exoplanets Renderer (SER), astronomer Abel Méndez has produced a stunning set of new images — including a global map — showing the distant dwarf planet of Pluto in unprecedented detail. » 11/14/13 7:40am 11/14/13 7:40am

Alien life in our solar system, according to pulp-art legend Frank R.…

Almost fifty years after his death, Frank R. Paul remains one of the biggest names in science fiction art and pulp magazine illustration. These visions of life on moons and planets throughout our solar system (recently posted to reddit with no attribution to Paul, his work, or his impact) provide us with another… » 4/08/13 3:20pm 4/08/13 3:20pm

"Vulcan" has won Pluto's moon-naming poll!

When we last told you about the SETI-sponsored poll asking the public to help christen two of Pluto's as-yet unnamed moons, "Vulcan" held a significant lead. Now, after weeks of online ballot casting, the namesake of Spock's home planet has been named the clear winner, with a total of 450,324 votes cast since February… » 2/26/13 10:40am 2/26/13 10:40am

Have Trekkies taken over the voting on the naming of Pluto's new moons?

Last week we reported on a SETI initiative allowing the public to vote on their favorite names for Pluto's 4th and 5th moons. The voting is scheduled to close on February 25th, after which time the top names will be presented to the International Astronomical Union (IAU) for consideration. Initially, SETI provided a… » 2/19/13 6:20am 2/19/13 6:20am

Now's your chance to name two of Pluto's new moons

Astronomers recently discovered two previously unknown moons orbiting Pluto, bringing its total up to five. How this supposed non-planet can have so many moons is beyond me, but whatever. Anyway, the new moons have been dubbed P4 and P5 — an oversight that needs correcting, especially when considering the elegant… » 2/12/13 9:30am 2/12/13 9:30am

The real reason Neil deGrasse Tyson wanted Pluto demoted

Oh sure, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says that he wanted Pluto downgraded from planet to dwarf planet because he wants to give similar objects similar classifications. But artist Burton Durand has revealed the real reason for Pluto's reclassification — he's in cahoots with famed physicist. And Pluto is patient. » 3/10/12 3:20pm 3/10/12 3:20pm

Mickey Mouse and Pluto get the Frank Frazetta treatment

If fantasy artist Frank Frazetta had ever worked for Disney, perhaps we would have seen Mickey Mouse on a distant sand and sandals world plagued by ferocious monsters. This Frazetta-inspired painting gives us a glimpse of the Micky fantasy adventure that never was, but ignores one important question: What would Minnie… » 12/31/11 9:35am 12/31/11 9:35am

The planets of the Solar System, according to crazed pulp comics of…

Back in the Forties, the science fiction rag Planet Comics published the ongoing feature "Life On Other Worlds." This section peppered scientific know-how amongst whatever gonzo shit the writer happened to make up. Here's a tour of our Solar System using old issues of Planet Comics. Did you know that Mars is occupied by… » 11/06/11 7:30am 11/06/11 7:30am

Puss, Boots, BDSM, and the Plutonic Ideal

The new Dreamworks Shrek spin-off Puss in Boots is about a cat and a hat and is really kind of meritless, unless you're a member of fursuit fandom who can only appreciate Salma Hayek when she's a sultry tabby. » 10/30/11 2:20pm 10/30/11 2:20pm

Pluto has regained its position as the ninth largest body to orbit the …

When scientists first discovered the dwarf planet Eris back in 2005, they claimed that the icy body was actually larger than Pluto. But when Eris' orbit passed in front of a dim star late last year, astronomers got their first chance to take a good hard look at the dwarf planet's actual diameter. And as it turns out,… » 10/28/11 11:40am 10/28/11 11:40am