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Weekend Diversion: The Physics of Flamingos

“Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo, flying across in front of a beautiful sunset? And he’s carrying a beautiful rose in his beak, and also he’s carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you’re drunk.” -Jack Handy The diversity of the world’s animals is one of the most…

“You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” -Edwin Louis Cole Our Solar System is — at least from our perspective — the most well-studied system of planets, moons, asteroids and comets in the entire Universe. And in this system, the closest planet to our Sun, Mercury, was also one…

Weekend Diversion: Walking on Water!

Clearly, neither the man nor the bull below is headed for anything good in their attempt to walk on water, and for that matter, neither is this poor, bristling cat, but what about this reptile? Unbelievably, this lizard actually can walk on water! And without using any surface tension tricks like insects do, either. No,…

Mars or Arizona?

Those of you who know me know that I’m unhappy living here in Arizona. The landscape and ecosystem of the Sonoran Desert, while beautiful to many, is too dry, rocky, and devoid of life for me to enjoy living here. After my time here, I’ve decided that, were it somehow offered to me, I would…

Water on Mars, Part II: Holden Crater

So in a recent column I told you all the problems with having water on Mars in recent history — namely that the atmosphere is too thin to have supported it. But many of you have (rightly) pointed out to me that there is some evidence that there could have been water on Mars a…

Was there Ever Liquid Water on Mars?

People love to speculate that Mars was once a great place for life to form, and claim that there is plenty of evidence that there used to be oceans and rivers there. But this isn’t true. People used to claim there were big Canal-like features on Mars, and used this as evidence that Mars was…