A microscopic snowman, a humanoid robot, and more

Our favorite images of the week


The World's Smallest Snowman

This snowman, which was promoted on Tumblr this Wednesday in honor of the winter solstice, is only 3 microns tall, making it the world's smallest. The snowman's body is made of 3 precisely cut 0.9 micron silica spheres that were pieced together by scanning a beam of electrons, a method often used to create teeny tiny unique shapes. The nose is made of platinum. H/T Corey S. Powell via TwitterWestern Nanofabrication Facility

Biodiversity Can Be Really Cute

This newt here, called Tylototriton anguliceps, is one of 163 animals found along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia that entered the new species class of 2015. It's nicknamed the Klingon newt, after the extraterrestrial humanoid species in Star Trek. Also listed is a David Bowie-esque snake that boasts quite glamorous scales.WWF
casper octopus

Casper The Octopus Is In Danger

This ghost-like octopus was just discovered last year off the coast of Hawaii, but already scientists think it might be in danger. These octopods lay their eggs on one particular type of sponge that grows on top of manganese deposits. Manganese is currently a heavily-mined mineral because of its usefulness in producing mobile phones and other tech gadgets. For now, because of a sufficient amount of manganese on Earth's surface, these animals are safe. But scientists don't know for how long.Courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016
humanoid underwater robot

Humanoid Diver

Who better to explore a dangerous underwater archaeological site than a human that's not actually a human? Stanford researchers built this hybrid humanoid/ROV robot that can reach dangerous depths of the ocean so humans don't have to. Unlike other ROVs, which are incredibly boxy and lack dexterity, this humanoid has two hands that real humans can manipulate to make the robot perform delicate tasks undersea. H/T: IEEE SpectrumFrederic Osada and Teddy Seguin/DRASSM/Stanford
snow in the Sahara desert

Desert Snow

Some deserts—ones that are very high up in altitude—get snow all the time. But the African Sahara rarely gets the pleasure of a white Christmas. This week though, snow blanketed the area, as seen in the satellite image above. The last time scientists recorded snow falling in this area was in February 1979. Read about this strange weather event—and other surprising snow days—here.NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens