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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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Josh MacDonald

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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