I think I just fell head-over-heels in love (or at least “really strong like”) with Bunpei Yorifuji’s Wonderful Life With The Elements book. Each element becomes a character, giving a cartoonish face to their particular chemical properties. Sure, some aren’t wearing pants … but minerals do as minerals want (peek through the book preview if you don’t believe me).
Periods are divided by their odd haircut choices, and the age of the element since discovery via facial hair. Other physical and chemical characteristics are evident by attire and appearance. If you’re looking for an early Christmas present for your favorite science blogger, just go ahead and put it in the mail with my name on it.
Rising in the dark hours before dawn, wandering Venus now shines as the brilliant morning star.
Its close conjunction with the Moon on August 13 was appreciated around planet Earth. But skygazers in eastern Asia were also treated to a lunar occultation, the waning crescent Moon passing directly in front of the bright planet in still dark skies.
This composite image constructed from frames made at 10 minute intervals follows the celestial performance from above the city lights and clouds over Taebaek, Korea. The occultation begins near the horizon and progresses as the pair rises. Venus first disappears behind the Moon’s sunlit crescent, emerging before dawn from the dark lunar limb.
Meet Sciurumimus albersdoerferi, the “squirrel mimic”. It was a theropod dinosaur (the family that includes T. rex) that lived around 150 million years ago in what is today Germany.
Notice the incredible detail in this fossil, and how broad the excavation is around its tail (the “squirrely” part of the dino). Thanks to the fine sediment that this specimen was found in, extremely detailed feather-like filaments were identified, almost like tiny hairs.
We’ve known for a long time that dinos like Archaeopteryx were feathered ancestors of modern birds, but this pushes the origin of feathers back a few notches on the dino evolutionary tree. Some people have tried to make this finding sound like all dinosaurs had feathers, but it’s more likely just a sign that some, but not all, non-bird-ancestor species used feather-like growths for warmth.
In an era of particle physics and supercomputer genome analysis, it’s nice to see that good ol’ fossils still provide such amazing science :)