Philae Lander

Honorable mention goes to the ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft, which made headlines last year for being the first manmade vehicle to land on a comet. Except the “landing” didn’t go as smooth as the agency had wanted. On November 12, 2014, Rosetta released its Philae lander, which traveled down to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Philae was equipped with harpoons, meant to shoot out and anchor the lander to the comet’s surface. However, the harpoons failed to deploy, and mission specialists admitted it’s possible Philae bounced off the comet before touching down for good. “Maybe today we didn’t just land once, we landed twice,” landing manager Stephan Ulamec joked at a press conference.

Scrambling for a last-minute Halloween costume? Looking for something a little more creative than that same Scream mask you’ve been wearing since 1996? Donald Trump wasn’t a good costume in 2015, and it’s a little too scary this year. Harambe and Dat Boi came and went already. But science news is always cool! So here are 13 Halloween costume ideas, ranging from darkly funny to downright terrifying, pulled from 2016 Popular Science stories.

The Note 7

Aedes aegypti Mosquito

For a truly frightening costume, try dressing up as an Aedes aegypti mosquito, the insect that carries the Zika virus. Already a major concern in Central and South America, Zika reached the Unite States this summer. Nothing’s more frightening than a burgeoning epidemic.


The first three items on the list may be sad or frightening, but this one is downright adorable. The pangolin, one of the most endangered animals in the world, was recently given expanded protection under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. So if you’re more into cute costumes than scary ones, cut out some cardboard scales, build a tail out of a stocking, and get a ridiculous manicure to mimic the pangolin’s artichoke/dragon look.

August Heat

Global temperatures in August.

Black Hole Collision

In case you haven’t heard, scientists announced Thursday that they have detected gravitational waves for the first time, which is a huge deal for several reasons, including the fact that it confirms the predictions of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. Sketchfab user moroplogo animated the collision of two black holes that allowed scientists to detect the waves.

The Reproducibility Crisis

If you want a very spooky idea, how about dressing up as the ongoing reproducibility crisis in psychology that’s currently undermining the field. Researchers have realized that many of the biggest studies in psychology can’t be replicated–one notable example this past summer featured almost two dozen labs failing to verify the results of an influential study. So feel free to staple a bunch of shoddy studies to your clothes and never back up anything you say.
An artist’s idea of what the surface of Proxima b might look like.


Earlier this year, Google’s Go-playing AI, AlphaGo, defeated the reigning world champion, Lee Se-Dol. Whether you want to emphasize the exciting or terrifying aspect of this costume is up to you! Do you dress as the incredible machine that has been engineered to defeat a human at a game whose play combinations are nearly infinite? Or as the harbinger of the Singularity, the first step toward brutally cruel robot overlords that will eventually crush us all? Either way you go, this costume will be a hit!

Juno at Jupiter

An artist’s concept of NASA’s Juno spacecraft at Jupiter

Driverless Uber

Since this summer, Uber’s driverless cars have been roaming the streets of Pittsburgh. What better way to demonstrate that you keep up with tech news than to show up dressed as an Uber self-driving car, equipped with a rooftop camera rig and hopefully not running anybody over. Plus, if you want to leave the party or exit a boring conversation, you can just say you’ve been hailed.

Couple’s Costume: Neil Degrasse Tyson And The Flat Earth

How about dressing up as one of the most unlikely couples in science: Neil Degrasse Tyson and a flat Earth, inspired by the beef between Tyson and rapper B.o.B. earlier this year. Throw on a fake mustache and a smug smile, have your friend dress as a flat version of our planet, and have fun explaining the costume to everyone.

Rotten Pokémon Go Eggs

Ever since the Pokemon Go craze has died down, all those Pokemon in your phone are probably feeling lonely. When was the last time you took one to a gym battle? Or even just out for a walk with the buddy feature? Have you even checked on those incubating eggs? They’re probably rotten by now. Remind everyone of the unsung victims of gaming trends by dressing up as a rotten Pokémon egg or a lonely, abandoned Pikachu.