Despite even Captain Kirk, a one William Shatner, getting in on the lobbying action, the IAU has named Pluto's two new moons, Kerberos and Styx, sticking firmly with Greek mythology. Sadly it seems Vulcan will have to remain fictional, until Star Trek-loving privateers venture out in to deep space at least. [IAU]
A contact lens that gives you an optical zoom right on your eyeball
DARPA-funded scientists have managed to create a contact lens that's just over 1mm thick, but can give the wearer a 2.8 times magnified view. Not only that but the user can switch between zoomed and normal 1x magnification.
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A ring of magnifying optics surrounds a central unmagnified view, with liquid crystal shutters that block off either the central lens or the ring around the outside, switching from normal to zoomed view for the wearer.
Right now the shutter mechanism is built into a modified pair of active-shutter 3D glasses placed over the eyeball, but the researchers are confident they can embed the equipment directly in the lens.
The only issue they've got is precisely how to switch on or off the LCD shutters when mounted in the contact lens, as getting power to your eyeball is something optical engineers like this have been fighting with for some time now. [New Scientist]
Parrots can crack locks
When you think of parrots you might think of pirates, not master thieves, but it seems parrots are pretty good at picking locks.
The birds, in a test of intelligence, understanding, goal-directed behaviour and learning from consequences, were able to pick a lock by removing a pin, a screw and by turning a wheel to release a latch.
Most of the parrots in the test completed the task with a little bit of instruction, but one particular feathered friend was able to pick the lock to get at a visible nut within two hours without any human interference at all. Impressive stuff given the level of manipulation and learning required to crack the lock. [New Scientist]