According to some tricky calculations from Guillaume Robuchon and Francis Nimmo at the University of California, Santa Cruz, Pluto may actually have a liquid ocean underneath its frigid, -230 °C exterior. It's mostly speculation, but the reasoning is pretty sound: if Pluto's rocky core has a certain level of potassium, "its decay could produce enough heat to melt some of the overlaying ice," says New Scientist. The assumption is that Pluto does, since the Earth has 10 times that amount despite being closer to the sun and therefore likely having much less potassium in its core than Pluto. We just hope having an ocean makes Pluto feel better about not being a planet anymore. [New Scientist]
We've all experienced the fluid-dynamics phenomenon known as the "teapot effect." Every time you pour out a nice relaxing cup of tea, a little of the elixir dribbles down the outside of the spout of the teapot, dampening your doily and your spirits.
It happens because liquid clings to the lip of the spout instead of exiting neatly, especially at low rates of flow.
Cyril Duez and his team of fluid dynamicists could not tolerate one more dribble. They have identified the root cause, a "hydro-capillary effect" that makes the tea fail to leave the spout material gracefully. Two techniques can be used to combat this.
The idea of extraterrestrial boating comes from planetary geologist (and sailing enthusiast) Ellen Stofan, who points out that one of Saturn's moons, Titan, is covered with lakes, and in fact is one of only two places in our solar system known to have surface liquid (the other being Earth, of course). So why not launch a floating probe? After all, to date all extraterrestrial endeavors have involved either flight or land navigation, so perhaps it's time to switch it up a little.
Only marginally concerned with the actual utility of such a project, I recently embarked upon a quest to record and illustrate the rate of water flows. Would you like to measure the rate of a dripping faucet, but lack the sophisticated equipment required? Do not despair! Armed with a gallon jug and a stopwatch, I have prepared an easy-to-use water-flow estimation guide.