You Have Better Taste Than You Realize

The old "tongue map" from our elementary school textbooks has been roundly debunked. Experimental confirmation of "umami" expanded Westerners' traditional four basic tastes—sweet, sour, salty, and bitter—into five. But did you know those 5 basic tastes might actually be 6 . . . or 7, 8, or more? » 9/17/14 6:10pm 9/17/14 6:10pm

Images of Charon Orbiting Pluto Guide A Spacecraft To Its Destination

An animation of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, was created using a series of images captured by the New Horizons spacecraft as it continues its long journey to the distant planetoid. Taken from a distance of 422-429 million km, the images are not for scientific study, but for optical navigation between worlds. » 8/07/14 2:40pm 8/07/14 2:40pm

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 4/19/14 6:50pm

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

Suffering Scifi Duos Bond over their Adorable Shared Pain

Life isn't easy if you're a genetic experiment. Or an expendable minion, a powerful being wedged into an itty-bitty living space, or a recently downgraded scientific entity. Fortunately, it's a little easier to bear the pain if you've got someone in a similar situation to share the load. » 2/10/12 4:00pm 2/10/12 4:00pm

Robot Boys Exaggerated…