Science Saturday: Fuzzy Dinos + Martian Elephants + Diamond Computing + Paschal Moon + More

Welcome back to another fact filled edition of Science Saturday! This week: unearth T-Rex’s feathery ancestors, see elephants on Mars, build a computer inside of a diamond, and learn about the astronomy of Easter. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: Google’s Project Glass.


Humongous Feathered Dinosaur Dug Up in China
Scientists have known for some time that many dinosaurs had feathers. In fact, modern birds are direct descendants of those very “terrible lizards”. But, a new find in China reveals that even the giants among the dino kingdom, perhaps even the T-rex, had feathers, too. The Yutyrannus huali, an ancestor of the T-Rex weighing in at 3,000 pounds, was found recently with down feathers. This guy is 40 times the weight of the largest previously known feathered dinosaur. The discovery shows that even the very big dinosaurs may have been feathered.

Read the scientific journal article in Nature.

Artist impression of giant feathered Yutyrannus and the smaller Beipiaosaurus.

Elephant Face Seen on Mars
Surely you’ve heard of the face on Mars, but what about the elephant face? A new picture taken by NASA’s HiRISE camera orbiting Mars beamed back the below image of a lava flow in the Elysium Planetia region of Mars, which looks a lot like a big gray terrestrial mammal. This image is just another Martian example of the phenomenon known as “pareidolia,” in which our eyes and brain can be coaxed to see familiar patterns in unfamiliar settings.

Read more at the HiRISE website.

Click to embiggen

Quantum Computer Built Inside a Diamond
A team of scientists has built the first ever quantum computer housed inside of a diamond. Their demonstration shows the viability of solid-state quantum computers, which have an advantage over gas- and liquid-state quantum computers in that the solid-state variety can easily scale up in size. Quantum computers are typically very small and still cannot compete with larger, traditional computers. But, maybe this diamond computer can be scaled into a larger version, which could have insane computing capabilities.

Read the scientific journal article in Nature.

The 3mm x 3mm diamond quantum computer

How Astronomy Gets You a Day Off Work
The first full moon of the spring season occurred at 3:19 p.m. ET yesterday. Because of this, you probably didn’t have to go to work (and some of you lucky ones even get “Easter Monday” off!). Why? Because Easter is officially celebrated after the Paschal Full Moon, the first full moon of spring. If the Paschal Moon occurs on a Sunday, Easter will be in seven days time. So, now you know why Easter never seems to fall on the same day (or even the same month) from year to year.

More Easter moon facts at

This year’s Paschal Moon (photo credit: spacemike)

Gadget of the Week: Google’s Project Glass
OK, this is it. We are officially living in the future. Google unveiled this week a new project called Google Glass — augmented reality glasses not unlike the ever so stylish headwear from TNG’s “The Game“. Project Glass is in it’s very early stages, but Google’s put together a video to show how the tech would work as well as some photos showing off the design. Pretty incredible stuff.

Initial design for Google Glass headwear

Science Bytes
Not enough science for you? Here’s a warp-speed look at some more science tid-bits that are worth a peek.


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Google’s Project Glass: I WANT :)

That’s not an elephant. That’s Garindan, without a cloak!

The La Forge app for Project Glass: Observe the unobservable.

There used to be sci-fi TV news & sci-fi movies news sections every week, any chance of bringing them back ?

There’s nothing sci-fi left to report on

The “elephant” looks more like Mr. Snuffleupagus.

The elephant face is a space jockey!

I would go seriously bonkers if something popped up everytime I turned my head. That gadget needs some serious filters if they’re gonna sell it to the old fart crowd, like me.

So, that’s not an elephant? But, what did the martians use as a model when they dug the elephant-shaped hole??

Thanks Kayla.

Am I the only person to think these ‘google goggles’ are an accident waiting to happen? I only say this as someone who never texts and walks now, after being an inch away from falling down a very deep hole.

Feathery dinos are cool though.

That’s not an elephant, it’s a Thark.


Good one! ;-D
I was thinking it might also be a thoat or a white ape….

As for the solid diamond quantum computer? I wish they’d have gone more into detail about the ‘insane’ capabilities this would create. Kind of makes Voyager’s bio-neural gel-packs looks so 1995, doesn’t it?

Introducing Google Borg!

When thinking is too much a hassle, Google Borg will do it for you.
Connect with Facebook, watch videos while you walk, avoid talking to actual people, and look like a rear view mirror!

Join the collective today!

Ohh those Google glasses are going to make See Something, Say Something so much easier to do.

Nice Job, Google, you tireless band of patriotic Americans!

And that is why Easter is really a Pagan Holiday…

Those Google Glasses are the most annoying gadget imaginable, and will just get the usual bad-judgment-texting set into more accidents as they walk, bike and drive.

While that is ironically a good thing in a sick sort of way (fewer Smartphone addicts/more lessons learned), if you remember Robocop, there was a certain tragic edge to the fact that officer Murphy now had to see the world through an enhanced digital interface. Why pay money for that?

In the real world, this is a product that will be banned behind the wheel, for sure, and will be essential gear for the mindless idiots who need a computer network to locate a friend in a bookstore they are already in.

This story is a few days too late, but it should be an April Fool’s entry. Those Google glasses are just ridiculous! To anyone even thinking about using them I refer you to the Emmisary, Ben Sisko.

To papraphrase,

“I’m no writer, but if I were it seems to me I’d wanna poke my head up every once in a while and take a look around – see what’s going on. It’s life, Jake! You can miss it if you don’t open your eyes!”

Go outside and experience your wonderous world WITHOUT the gadgets, your Star Trek DVD collection will still be waiting for you inside when you get back!

Project Glass — the greatest advancement in optics since the Opti-Grab:

Seriously folks, you gotta hand it to Google to try to take credit for the development of heads-up display technologies, which were originally developed by the U.S. military in the 1970’s.

Are some of us here a little more “get off my lawn, you kids!” than usual today?


An upscaled diamond quantum computer would be the perfect excuse to own a giant diamond and not be completely pretentious.

I wonder how many more kinds of distraction related accidents those ‘google glasses’ will cause. And we thought cellphones were a nuisance.

The quantum computer has me very interested, though…

Wow, T Rex may have had feathers. Jurassic Park would look much different.

Oh please. China is notorious for putting out fake fossils. You can’t trust anything that comes out of the ground there.

This is an interesting story…

Did Nasa cover up mysterious ‘orbs’ that flew past shuttle mission?

Newly uncovered video clearly shows unknown objects ‘buzzing’ Shuttle Atlantis

Orbs move around the shuttle, appearing to be in formation

To the ground control commentator on Nasa’s live public feed, they’re merely ‘reflections on the camera lens’ – but the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis don’t sound so convinced.

A spooky YouTube video appears to show three ‘orbs’ moving slowly around the Atlantis, as it floats in orbit during a 2006 mission.

The footage, which is a segment of the feed, begins with one of the astronauts describing to ground control what they’re seeing.

The unnamed crew member says: ‘It’s a structure that’s definitely not rigid. Doesn’t look like anything I’ve ever seen on the outside of the Shuttle, that’s for sure.’

He describes how the object ‘quickly moved to the nose of the orbiter, moving away at least 100 feet’.

For a few minutes nothing of note happens, but then at 4.45 the camera looks beyond the shuttle and focusses on three orbs that appear to be hovering in a triangular formation nearby.

The ground control commentator immediately passes them off as ‘reflections in the camera lens’ – but the shuttle crew members seem far less dismissive, with one confirming that they’re seeing ‘three or four objects’ and asking: ‘Can you confirm it’s just the one that’s moving?’


It’s true that China’s fossil “discoveries” have had a shady past, but this particular one was made by a team of Chinese and Canadian scientists. According to the Nature article anyway.