Science Saturday: 5th Pluto Moon + Higgs Boson Party + Solar Storm + New Tricorder + More

Welcome back to Science Saturday! This week, discover Pluto’s 5th (yes, 5th) moon with a little help from Hubble; Celebrate the Higgs Boson discovery, and learn why you should care; prepare for intense, low-latitude aurorae thanks to a solar storm currently bombarding Earth; and detect brain injuries with a modern Tricorder. All this and more, plus our gadget of the week: animated augmented reality app for Android devices.


Fifth Moon Discovered Around Pluto
Astronomers have once again pointed the Hubble Space Telescope at our solar system’s not-a-planet-anymore Pluto and have once again discovered another little moon circling the icy dwarf planet. The new moon, known only as P5 so far, is irregular in shape and only about 6-15 miles in diameter. The largest moon of Pluto, Charon, was discovered very recently in 1978, and the most recent moon discovery, P4, was in 2011. Each new moon discovery surprises scientists, as no one expected a body like Pluto to have such a complex lunar system. This discovery is even more fodder for what scientists can investigate when the New Horizons space craft whizzes past Pluto in 2015.

Read more at Science at NASA.

Hubble Telescope image showing the moons of Pluto, including the new P5

Scientists Celebrate the Higgs Boson Discovery & Why it Matters
Just in case you have been in a cave with your eyes closed and your ears plugged for the last few weeks, NEWS FLASH! The guys at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) discovered the particle that it was built for — the Higgs Boson, the particle that gives matter mass. A group of ‘rock star’ particle physicists took over the UC Berkeley auditorium Friday to explain their recent findings and why the Higgs is so important for our fundamental understanding of the universe. There’s not enough room in this paragraph to go into that kind of detail here, so I’ll just leave this very informative video for you to enjoy.

Intense Solar Storm Bombarding Earth Now
If you’re anywhere near the poles, be on the look out for some fantastic aurorae (Northern/Southern lights) in the next few days. A massive solar storm produced by our very own sun sent a shockwave toward us here on Earth. Space Weather officials say that intense weekend aurorae are likely, as this solar storm could cause a level G2 geomagnetic storm on Earth, meaning that you might even be able to see some beautiful lights in the night skies as far south as New York or Idaho.

An image of the solar flare, which peaked on July 12, that’s hitting Earth now

New Tricorder-like Handheld Scanner Could Detect Brain Injury
A new tricorder-esque handheld scanner for detecting brain bleeds could soon be in the hands of the American military. The futuristic, portable device resembles a Wii controller, and is made to be used on the go in emergency mass casualty situations. It can detect invisible injuries caused by explosive blasts, or even mishaps like athletic injuries. It works by measuring the brain with infrared light in eight spots around the head. If any asymmetry between spots is detected, that could indicate a brain bleed.

Read more at Navy Times.

One step closer to a real tricorder

Cute Science of the Week: Snow Leopard Mom and Cubs
For the first time ever, a snow leopard mother and her cubs were filmed in their den in Mongolia. And, it’s as adorable as you’d imagine. The new find is important because snow leopards are endangered, with only 4500-7500 thought to remain in the wild. What’s more, the animals’ elusive nature makes it very difficult to find and track them. Check out the adorable video below, and read more at MSCNBC.

Gadget of the Week: LZRTAG Augmented Reality App
A new app in the Google Play Store (sorry, iPhone users) allows you to put an animation anywhere. Simply upload an animation, put a tag on any real life object, and anyone with the LZRTAG app can use their phone to see your tag in action. Check out the video to see how it all works.

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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Don’t like lens flares? Try SOLAR flares!


Oh well, I preferred the modular programmable homemade tricorder presented here some months ago. That thing was just friggin cool!

The video above is the best explanation I’ve seen of what the Higgs Boson actually is.


Wonder if New Horizons will find rings or a debris field around Pluto.


Just imagine if it found rings or a debris field around Uranus!

I’ll get to my usual putrid puns in a moment.
First, THANK YOU for posting the explainer on Higgs-Boson. I read about 3 articles and got “The God Particle” and “basic building block” over and over, and nothing more. Granted, I’m still not that really smart Black guy on tv… or that really smart Asian guy on tv. I’m just a really dumb guy trying to get physics. But that video helped.

Everytime I read about a new “real” tricorder, first I giggle… then I think about what my reaction to a “real communicator” would have been in 1981. I’m not giggling at my cell phone. I can’t wait until it turns into a tricorder as well.

So, what else is in the Kuiper Belt? One day, we’re gonna need more real estate. No joke, we might choose to tunnel into the smaller “chunks” out there, build an upside down city and spin that bad boy for some g’s. I think Ceres is the biggest thing in the asteroid belt, but it’s only 600 miles across. Cheron is 650. What else might be out there to play with… one day?

Snow leopards were recorded by Panthera. Nice that she got a job finally. I always thought she got by on her tight catsuit, mooching off the other Thundercats.

Again, Thanks Kayla!


Opinion please, on Pluto. I think it’s a shame they’ve downgraded it from its designation as a planet. It has five moons for Pete’s sake! I believe Pluto deserves to be a planet. How about you?

Hm. Everybody has left the room.

Riddle me this:

Why are asteroids in the hemisphere and hemorrhoids in your ass?

Pluto isn’t considered a planet any longer, yet it has 5 moons. What’s wrong with this picture?

There is also evidence just been unearthed that we might be in an early phase of a magnetic field reversaL;.
This sort of news might bring visions of the destruction that was rampant in the movie 2012, but it is actually nothing that drastic.
The process seems to be underway with core matter shifting westward. It is a slow process that might take 1,000, 10,000, or even 100,000 years to complete- and when it’s all over there is a 50/50 chance the magnetic field will end up in mostly the same configuration- we wohn’t even need new compasses…. so it probably ain’t a thing even if it is a couple of hundred thousand years late, on average.

So, we’ll need to reverse the polarity on our magnetic probes.

Jeez, it’s always something.