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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Pluto's Moons Get Official Names, Star Trek Be Damned
2 July 2013 1:37 pm
A few months ago, when William Shatner, the actor who played Star Trek's Captain Kirk, heard that scientists were asking people to vote on names for Pluto's fourth and fifth moons, he lobbied that one satellite be called Vulcan, the home planet of Mr. Spock—and the name came out on top, far surpassing all others in the voting. Today, however, scientists announced that the moons will instead bear names that better reflect Pluto's role in mythology as the god of the underworld. One satellite will be christened Kerberos, for Pluto's three-headed dog, and the other Styx, for the river dividing the world of the living from the underworld. Kerberos is the Greek name for Cerberus, which placed number two in the voting, while Styx came in third. Why not Vulcan? Astronomers once used that name for what turned out to be a nonexistent planet inside Mercury's orbit, and its connection to the mythological Pluto was tenuous; so rejecting the name was—as Mr. Spock might say—the logical thing to do.
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