Bad Astronomy

Who knew the Universe was squishy?

You may have seen the particle zoo plushies: stuffed versions of various particles like the bottom quark and the electron antineutrino. They’ve been plugged on lots of other websites and I have to admit they’re pretty cute (and maybe even a good way to get kids indoctrinated interested in science).

My friend Scott Romanowksi just tipped me off that they have a new item: the Cosmic Microwave Background plushie. It’s pretty funny:


… but. Reading the accompanying text, I had to laugh.

It says, “The variations in the [CMBR] pattern corresponds to density variations which formed galaxies and were first detected by NASA’s KOBE explorer.”

The satellite to which they refer is the Cosmic Background Explorer, or COBE. Not “KOBE”, which is either a tasty Japanese beef or a basketball player with a somewhat checkered history. Also, to be über-pedantic, the E is for “explorer”, so it’s like saying “ATM Machine”, and etc. I’ve sent them an email about it, and I fully expect them to shower me with plushies out of gratitude. Or, more likely, they’ll send me an email back making fun of me. [Update: Feel the true power of the BABLog: I got an email from Julie at Particle Zoo, and she’s already corrected the image! Awesome.]

Either way, better get your plushie now: once Planck starts mapping the CMBR these’ll be collectors’ items.