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10 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Space

10 Amazing Facts You Didn’t Know About Space

Compiled below are 10 facts that completely blew our minds when we read them. It’s hard to believe how massive our galaxy is and how much of it we don’t yet understand. Space is a fascinating place that we are continuing to learn more and more about. What’s great is when we learn things about our galaxy that almost seem unbelievable at first.

1. The Largest Star

The largest star discovered by mankind so far is called UY Scuti, and according to The Daily Research, if it were to replace the sun, it would engulf everything in our galaxy up to Saturn! Although a number of sources claim stars like VY Canis Majoris are the largest, there are actually 7 discovered stars that are known to be bigger than VY Canis Majoris. Here is a video showing how small our planet is compared to VY Canis Majoris, the largest star known at the time of the video.

2. Methane Rain On Titan

Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, rains down liquid methane onto its surface. It gets cold enough on Titan’s surface to condense the methane gas into a liquid where it pours down much like the rain cycle that we have on Earth.

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3. Winter Is Coming

The north and south poles on Uranus go through light and dark cycles that span 42 years long, according to Universe Today. This means the south pole will experience 42 straight years of constant daylight, followed by 42 straight years of constant darkness. Talk about a long winter.

4. Space Is Not Empty

Unlike what most people believe, space isn’t a total vacuum. On average, there are roughly 3 atoms found in 1 cubic metre of space. Scattered atoms are floating around everywhere in space. This is caused by the violent nature of how stars, planets, comets, and other formations collide and interact with each other, spewing out articles across the entire universe.

5. The Sun Isn’t Special

Our Sun is just like any other star out there. In fact, it is pretty unimpressive when you stack it up against some of the giants out there. VY Canis Majoris, for example, makes our Sun look like a small pebble when you place them next to each other at scale.

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What’s surprising is that only 55% of people that live in America know this. The other 45% of Americans do not know that the sun is a star, according to the 1989 edition of Uncle John’s Second Bathroom Reader.

6. Jupiter Has Over 67 Moons

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, has over 67 moons. We say “over 67” because we can only count the moons that we have found so far. Astronomers believe there are many more undiscovered moons revolving around the gas giant that we haven’t discovered yet.

7. Saturn Would Float

If you placed Saturn in a giant tub of water, it would actually float on top of it. Saturn is mostly made up of gasses. This means it is less dense than liquid water and would float on top of it in this fictional scenario.

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8. Dark Matter And Dark Energy

Only a small portion of our universe is made up of the matter that we can recognize. About 25% of the content of our universe is made up of dark matter and 70% is made up of dark energy.

Dark matter and dark energy are terms that astronomers use to describe unidentifiable matter and energy. They are not yet able to observe it directly, but they can use indirect methods to determine it is there.

9. Our Nearest Black Hole

The nearest known black hole to us is about 1,600 light years away from Earth. It may sound like a lot at first, but it is not very far on the grand scale of things. If you scale it down to a football field, the black hole would only be 1.5 yards away from you.

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10. Pluto Is Not A Planet

This was debated for years. Many thought Pluto should no longer be recognized as a planet due to its size. Finally, the community came to an agreement and declared that Pluto was not a planet. Instead, they now refer to it as a dwarf planet.

Featured photo credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center via flickr.com

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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