Ever wonder what makes some things (babies, puppies, the smiley-face emoticon) cute and other things (cockroaches, dinosaurs, Richard Pombo) not-so-cute? This New York Times article examines “The Cute Factor” — science behind the characteristics such as roundness (think VW Beetle) and fuzziness that make an object worthy of the lovable, squeezable, I-want-to-eat-it-right-up-able adjective.

And cuteness is certainly not a concept lost on environmentalists. (See any plea from the World Wildlife Fund ever.) Listed in the article as ranking high on the cuteness scale are panda cubs, the stars of “March of the Penguins,” and even the Prius. Now if only we could make carbon trading round and fuzzy.