20 Out Of This World Facts About The Universe That Will Sweep You Off Your Feet
We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most incredible facts about the universe you will ever come across. The infinite expanse of stars and galaxies are riddled with mysteries which leading scientists and experts are yet to explore. In their quest to unearth the hidden secret of the universe, startling facts and information have emerged - 20 of which we’ve featured below.
1. When you look into the night sky, you are looking back in time.
When we gaze at stars in the night sky, we are actually looking into the past. This happens because light emitted from a star has to travels many light years ahead to actually become visible to our eyes. For example, Orion is 640 light-years away, so the light left the star around 1370 is what we are seeing now.
2. The Hubble telescope allows us to look back billions of years into the past
NASA releases some incredible images of space, from time to time, and it’s made possible with The Hubble Telescope. Here’s an image which is a collection of 10,000 images captured by The Hubble.
3. You can watch the Big Bang on your television
Cosmic background radiation is an after effect of the Big Bang, the event that allegedly gave birth to the universe. This can actually be seen on television where the old fuzzy noise we saw contains 1% of the same radiation.
4. There’s a giant cloud of alcohol in Sagittarius B
Sagittarius B, is a huge cloud of vinyl alcohol whizzing in space near the Milky Way. It’s important as it leaves crucial information for scientists about how early life forms originated in space.
5. There’s a planet-sized diamond in Centaurus named after a Beatles song
A planet , made completely of diamond, which has been called Lucy by scientists after the Beatles song, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” can be found 50 light years away in Centaurus and weighs in a mind boggling 10 billion-trillion-trillion carats.
6. It takes 225 million years for our Sun to travel around the galaxy
While our planets in the solar system circumnavigate the Sun, the star itself it on a orbit around the Milky Way. And if we’re counting in humans years, it takes 225 million years to complete the journey.
7. Our solar system’s biggest mountain is on Mars
The tallest mountain in our solar system is Olympus Mons, located on Mars. It’s calculated to be three times taller than Everest, spanning 600 kilometers across and 26 kilometers in height.
8. Uranus spins on its side, with some rather strange results
Uranus is not just unique because of its strange spinning, but the consequences of that effect results in 42 consecutive years of summer sunlight followed by another 42 consecutive winter darkness.
9. A year on Venus is shorter than its day
Venus is the slowest rotating planet in our solar system - it takes longer to finish a rotation on its axis than orbit the entire Sun!
10. Neutron stars are the fastest spinning objects known in the universe
The fastest spinning known pulsar, a neutron star which emits a radiation beam as light, cycles on a whopping 70,000 km per hour speed.
11. A spoonful of a neutron star weighs about a billion ton
Neutron stars are unimaginably dense, in fact one spoonful of one such star would weigh around a billion tons!
12. The Voyager 1 spacecraft is the most distant human-made object from Earth
In 1977, the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were released into space as an ambitious project and are still cruising the outskirts of our galaxy and maybe beyond to help us explore space even further.
13. Voyager 1 captured the most distant photograph of Earth
The same spacecraft, Voyager 1, took the most distant photograph of Earth: Voyager 1 took a shot of the Earth from the far reaches of space in 1990, and the small speck at the end of the image that is the world we’re living on right now became known as the Pale Blue Dot. Astronomer Carl Sagan noted,“From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”
14. Scientists are looking for evidence of extraterrestrial life on Earth
One of the most exciting mysteries of the universe is a quest to find aliens, or as termed by scientists a project called The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), where they are pulling n all data about extraterrestrial life on other planets through evidence they have at their hands.
15. It is estimated there are 400 billion stars in our galaxy
Our own Sun is one of 400 billion others, some astoundingly larger, some smaller, in the Milky Way alone.
16. There could be 500 million planets capable of supporting life in our galaxy
“Goldilocks Planets” are habitable planets which fall into a specific zone around the star to make life sustainable on it. Many factors come into play to get this perfect distance such as temperature, atmospheric content, water, chemical compounds on the surface etc.
17. There are probably more than 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe
Based on extensive calculations, using data from the Hubble Telescope and as far as it can see into space, there’s a probable 170 billion galaxies besides our own Milky Way.
18. There could be an infinite number of universes
Speculative theories in advanced branches of science such as mathematics, quantum mechanics and astrophysics have summed up that we could be living in a “multiverse”- a convergence of an infinite number of universes.
19. The human brain is the most complex object in the known universe
Our brain is a blueprint for the most complex network in the universe, with over a hundred billion neurons and quadrillion connections- this system isn’t even the tip of the iceberg which we know about what our brains have the potential to achieve.
20. We are all made of stardust
Carl Sagan beautifully summarises this fact, “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” In fact, every element on Earth transpired from a burning heart of a star.
*Quick note before I start: This is the first installment in a series I’ve called the Lost Colonies which is largely about human society adapting to the strange environments of other worlds. You can read the other installments here: 2,3,4, 5, 6, 7. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed writing this series, but with my new work schedule I had to bring it to a close. If you’ve enjoyed this story follow me on here for my other writings. Thanks again to everyone who has reblogged, liked, replied, DMed, or otherwise shown their appreciation for this series. It means a lot to me that people enjoyed it and the love you’ve all shown me has really helped keep me going for these last few months.*
An adult Turic sits behind a desk jotting down notes as a recorder takes down the interview for future analysis.
“I understand that this entire ordeal has been stressful for you and your fellow colonists but due to your unique situation we would like to use this opportunity to better understand human culture. Please let me know if we need to stop or if there is anything I can do to make you more comfortable.”
The human, a younger female by the name of Kiara fidgets in her seat.
“No, I’m fine, I just haven’t ever seen an alien before. Hell, until a few months ago no one had ever heard anything but legends of people from outer space.”
The Turic looks down at his notes as he tries to reconcile this information.
“According to our research it says that your colony was originally founded just over 500 Sols ago. Are you saying that in that short amount of time your colony’s knowledge of spacefaring and other sapient races was erased?”
“I guess? What’s a Sol though? How long would that be?”
“Oh, a unit of time measurement based on the solar rotation of your home world. Prior to your race’s colonization of other worlds you referred to it as a year. For reference, you are estimated to be 22 Sols old.”
“Then yeah, that makes a lot of sense. We didn’t really have permanent settlements and had to keep moving. One of the older stories said that we came to our world in a fiery ship and that the remains of it could be found out in the wastes once a cycle. That’s what we call it when the Thaw comes back to the same point.”
“I have heard some of the other colonists mention this Thaw. This is the name for the habitable zone in which your colony exists, correct?”
“Yeah, you live in the Thaw, you move with the Thaw. The Thaw keeps you from burning or freezing as long as you work with it. It protects you, feeds you and keeps you alive, but it always moves so you need to move with it.”
The Turic frantically scribbles notes on its data pad.
“Fascinating. It appears as though your civilization has come to mythologize a natural phenomenon the way your ancestors on earth frequently would. Your colony was founded on a planet that was almost what we would call tidally locked. In essence one side of it always faced your neighboring star and it rotated as it spun around it so that the same side always faced it at all times. However the spin was off by a small fraction so that the planet gradually rotated to have a day/night cycle, but this cycle was so slow that it took roughly 50 Sols for a single rotation. This would have made for a narrow band of surviveable temperatures but one that was constantly shifting albeit at a slow pace.”
Kiara stared blankly at the Turic.
“Sorry, that went a little over my head. What I think I caught from that though is that one side of my world faced the light and one side faced the dark and we lived in the space between. Which yeah, that’s the Thaw.”
“I apologize, this is fascinating for me, I’m just curious as to how or why your people took what appears to be such a large step backwards in their technological capabilities.”
“Well, like I said, some of our stories say that we came from a fiery ship and that it can be found in the wastes. If my people really did come from another world, maybe we crashed and our technology broke. We do tend to keep on the move and we usually leave things behind when they break and can’t be fixed. I wasn’t old enough to remember seeing the great ship when my parents took me there and it was taken by the scorch a long time ago.”
The Turic stared at his data pad wondering how he would even begin to unravel all of this.
“Well, hopefully we can find some solid answers to this mystery someday, but I would like for you to tell me more about your colony. What is life like on your world?”
Kiara straightened up in her seat and smiled.
“My name is Kiara Williams. I’m a frost melt like my mother and father before me. We work on the very edge of the Thaw to make sure that the glaciers, mountains and streams run in the right ways when it comes time for the Thaw to reach them in full. We scout lands in the cold to find new sites for villages. We dig breaks in the ice to make sure that the largest sheets fall away from farms and villages. It’s bitter cold and dangerous work but it’s important and sometimes exciting.”
The Turic stared in an expression that would have been the human equivalent of slack-jawed.
“You colony had the technological equivalence of pre-industrialization. Are you saying that your people geoformed an ice world to ensure proper farmland using little more than steel tools and furs?”
“Well there are plenty of other jobs too. My brother is a farmer out in the warmer parts of the Thaw and I have a cousin who lives on the other end of it as a waste reclaimer.”
“And what is it that your cousin does?”
“He goes out into the scorch looking for broken things that can be fixed or things that were left behind by accident. Most people say that’s not a job for an honest person, but he has a real knack for finding stuff to sell. I heard he even managed to find a few relics off the great ship.”
The Turic made a note to track down this cousin immediately.
“Are those the only professions available?”
“Of course not. There’s bakers and builders and law makers but we do have to keep moving with the Thaw so most of us try not to stay in one place too long. It doesn’t help to get too attached. We can usually only get 3 or 4 harvests out of a plot of land before it gets too hot to grow. That’s why frost melts like me are so important to help scout the farms in advance.”
The Turic glanced at the blinking light on his recorder that was letting him know that his allotted time was nearly up.
“I’ll need to let you get back to your family unit soon, but is there anything else you can tell me about your colony or its culture?”
Kiara sighed. “Not really. Being a frost melt, I spend most of my days surrounded by ice as far as the eye can see. It’s strange and beautiful though. There’s massive mountains made of nothing but ice and I know that if I simply walk for a few hours towards out into the frost it would be cold enough to kill, but I know that I’m the one who gets to tame it. At times when the wind is calm I can breath the cold in deep and look out to the stars and wonder what it would be like to explore them too.”
Kiara looked down at her feet self consciously and laughed.
“I guess I can actually get to do that now huh?”
The Turic adopted the human expression of a smile.
“There is a lot of unexplored space out there. I’m sure the human race would be proud to have you back to help them seek it out.”
Ok but aliens who don’t reproduce sexually finding out about periods. Just like. Being so confused when another officer just tries to make sure they have these odd little cotton things, and for a while thinking they’re for bullet wounds, only to find out what they’re REALLY for.
Tbh like not even them being disgusted just like. Wait you expel one of your most important bodily fluids for five of your planets rotations and no one is bothered by this? You’re expected to carry your duties on as normal???
Professor Ω5-029′s lectures were always packed. People from all across the campus, planet and galaxy came to their lectures, both organics and machines, both present and digitally.
The professor walked up to the stage, its six metallic legs efficiently climbing onto the stairs. It walked through the holographic screen, and began pointing at a map of the galaxy.
“Today’s lecture we will be focusing on this little blue and yellow ball right here. 45.2-3″ the professor said and the entire lecture hall cheered. The professor was the best expert on the newly discovered life-filled planet.
“Specifically, we begin in this landmass on the southern end of the planet’s rotation. Today it is connected to the rest of the landmass through this elevated region right here, but our models of 45.2-3′s past show that as late as 300,000 years ago, this wasn’t the case. The entire landmass was isolated from its neighbors through waters that required advanced shipping technology in order to traverse.”
“And yet…” the professor pointed at a location in the corner of the hologram. The image zoomed and moved into the center. A large four-legged furry animal with big jaws and three humps was seen. “The ancestors of the Amberois Calutalus, or the Camel as the media has been calling it, have been able to cross this gap with ease. Their descendants still walk the many deserts of 45.2-3 to this day.”
“Professor, are you saying the Calutalus used to be intelligent?”
“Most certainly. We’ve known for a long time that 45.2-3 used to house intelligent species. From the layers of artificial plastics found in rock formations as late as 1,000,000 years ago, to the spread of different animals across oceans they couldn’t have possible crossed on their own, to the radioactive isotopes that suggest nuclear fission plants, it was obvious.” the professor continued to show pictures of the planet’s rocky layers and many diverse deserts.
“However, it was only recently that we discovered for certain that the Calutalus were the species that built all these wonders. From the remnants of what we suspect were ancient Camel villages and roads, we found wide-rimmed passages perfectly designed for the slow crawl of the Calutalus.”
“And of course, the final piece of the puzzle.” the professor pointed to a picture of a black rock. “This rock was the powerful fuel through which the Camels transformed their planet into a paradise. They used this to pump the atmosphere with greenhouse gasses, raising the planet’s temperature. They chopped entire forests and destroyed fertile soil which managed to kill off all of the many jungles and grasslands that were in their way.”
The professor showed an animation detailing the expanding deserts of the planet. “They succeeded in expanding their home desert to the entire planet. After which, their work was done, and their descendants could live in peace in the desert they created for millions of years to come.”
The entire lecture hall clapped, but one organic student raised their arms. “But professor, wouldn’t it be possible that 45.2-3′s desertification was an accident, caused perhaps by another species?”
“That’s a good question, but we’ve already ruled it out. No species smart enough to land vehicles on their moon would be stupid enough to transform their entire planet into a desert if deserts weren’t their natural environment.”
Lie down on your back on a patch of natural ground and close your eyes. Breathe deeply. Imagine that you can feel the earth turning underneath you – you should be able to feel a pull towards your head or your feet, maybe off at an angle. Reach down deep to connect not only to the centre of the planet, but to the rotations of the cosmos that you are a part of. Visualise ripples radiating from you out into the world, and more radiating back into you. Draw energy from all around you, above and below, the constant motion of the universe.
And so it begins! Part One of a ten-part series written for @outside-the-government‘s ‘Write Away the Winter Blues’ challenge! I’m thinking 1-2 instalments per week as it goes. I’ll put it together in one long post at the end. Beware, the prompt may look fluffy, but this story is definitely more adventure-suspense (with fluff involved of course!)
UPDATE: This fic is now complete! Please see my MASTERLIST for all following parts :)
Because I love them both, I’m melding the TOS and AOS Bones timelines. If you so desire, there are Easter eggs to be found!
Fandom: Star Trek (AOS/TOS).
Pairing: Reader X Bones
Warnings: some suspense, a few mild swear words. Can’t think of anything else!
Tagging @medicatemedrmccoy :D Thanks for letting me ramble about this fic! If anyone else wants to be tagged just let me know!
“Captain’s Log, Stardate 2285.4. We are orbiting an unknown planet, which lies beyond Starfleet’s updated star charts. I’ve elected to call it ‘Surak’, because it looks peaceful, but it appears there’s turbulence under the surface. Plus I’m 99% certain it will annoy Mr. Spock, a fringe benefit of being Captain.”
“Captain, I am incapable of experiencing annoyance.”
“I amend my statement. I am 100% certain it annoys Mr. Spock. Regardless, we have detected a Starfleet medical distress signal coming from
this planet, which - according got our sensors - currently houses humanoid life with a culture distinctly similar to early 21st century Earth. To limit possible disruption, I am only sending Dr. McCoy and security officer Y/l/n to the planet’s surface. They are scheduled to report back in one hour.”
Pressing the button to end recording, Kirk looked out at the slowly rotating planet, the red land gleaming in sunlight. You and Bones were down there somewhere. It was the right call but still, he hated not being on the away mission. Drumming his fingers on the arm of his chair, Kirk realized it was useless.
“Mr. Spock, you have the con.” rising from his seat, Kirk moved to leave the bridge. Maybe if he practiced some more he could finally get that nerve pinch to work.
So, this thing sometimes happens where a prominent person makes a public claim that wind is a finite resource, and therefore that we shouldn’t make wind turbines because they will stop all of the airflow. Then everybody points at them at laughs, and the clip gets passed around as a Weak Man argument against renewable energy, etcetera etcetera. But climate systems are pretty complicated, and people might be making fun of the “we’ll run out of wind” claim without necessarily understanding why it’s wrong. And it turns out to be wrong in a fairly interesting way. After all, there’s a certain amount of logic to it- you can’t get energy from nothing! We’ve got to be depleting something, right?
Asyouknowbob, wind is a rebalancing of atmospheric pressure differences on large scales, from high pressure to low. To the first order, these are caused mainly by thermal gradients (north-south) and coriolis forces (east-west)- basically, sunlight hits the equator head-on, and the poles at an oblique angle, so the energy density of any given patch of land will be higher at the equator. The thermal expansion increases pressure at the equator relative to the poles, and convection takes care of the rest, with the direction of Earth’s rotation setting the counter/clockwise direction of the convection cells (if the Earth spun the other way, England would be frozen and Quebec would be temperate). The presence of liquid water bodies, dark forests, and reflective snow or sand can influence this a bit, as can the atmospheric composition, but honestly the order of magnitude is mostly just set by the spherical geometry of the Earth and its distance from the sun.
A windmill can leach energy from a given gust of wind, sure. But that doesn’t mean the pressure difference across two different geographic regions has suddenly been equalized. Instead, it just makes wind a less efficient conveyor of heat and mass, as if air had a higher viscosity wherever windmills are common. In fact, with pressure imbalances being corrected more slowly, that creates an opportunity for atmospheric imbalances to grow *more* severe. So the immediate lee side of a wind farm might be dead air, but elsewhere, where people live and work, average wind speeds might well increase! Think about what happens to the flow rate of water coming out of a garden hose, if you cover half the opening with your thumb.
So you can see that broadly, wind power is actually a kind of once-removed solar power, with some of the same advantages and disadvantages. They do, of course, have other consequences. Higher atmospheric “viscosity” means that our wind turbines are causing a warmer equator, and cooler poles. Inland areas are more arid, coastal areas are more prone to monsoons, and with extreme windmill proliferation California might even start having seasons. In general, oceans and large lakes store heat very well, which is why coastal areas are less seasonal, and our windmills insulate those oceans further and prevent them from moderating nearby land areas.
However, it’s not only solar power. See, if we increase the “viscosity” of the atmosphere by sticking a bunch of windmills into it, then it’s more tightly tied to the motion of the rocky planet underneath it. From the perspective of our angular momentum as a rotating planet, it makes the Earth “heavier” in a sense, harder to move. Thus, we see that unlike pure solar panels, wind turbines draw from a second, non-renewable source of power. The real problem with windmills isn’t that they use up all the wind somehow- if anything, they increase the speed of the wind you can expect to feel. The real problem with them is that they deplete the Earth’s finite store of angular momentum, slowing down the rotation of the Earth. If unrestrained windmill propagation is allowed to continue, the day and night will get longer and longer, until eventually the spinning stops completely and the Earth becomes tidelocked. One hemisphere will be trapped in eternal daylight, baked to a desert, while the frozen night on the other side makes life all but impossible. In the narrow band of twilight at the boundary of these two hemispheres, where the last remnants of humanity scratch out a desperate living, the thermal gradient between the dark and light sides of our world will produce some very strong winds. They’ll be steady and unidirectional from the day side to the night side, making wind an ideal power source for our dystopian cities.
We’re on an empty highway.
The sun has exploded into a thousand different hues red orange pink yellow red orange pink yellow red—
the wind rages chaotically; a thunderstorm is coming.
You don’t slow down the car.
I don’t tell you to do so, either.
Your right hand between my thighs, I arch my back and pray to the sky.
To the stars burning milky-white
To the planets rotating in the same direction they do every day around and around and around and—
To the Gods who are angry. Please don’t be angry.
The first splatter of rain hits my face.
You smile, your left hand tightening around the steering wheel.
Foot pressing harder against the race.
You always loved having a roofless car.
I turn on the radio
and sing at the top of my lungs
the song that made me first think of you. It feels good to be here it feels good to be here it feels good—
You tell me to sing louder.
I lose my voice.
The rain is pouring now.
Your car is soaked, flooded.
It won’t move.
The sun has set, the sky now a single hue of midnight blue midnight blue midnight blue—
the wind cracks the windows, the windshields.
Glass explodes into a thousand pieces a thousand different—
I can’t unbuckle my seatbelt.
Blood is seeping out of your face.
Out of my face.
You don’t care.
Your foot is still on the pedal.
The storm hovers over our heads.
I look at you once more.
You don’t look back.
Your fists pound furiously
against the horn honk honk honk honk—
Lightning flashes, strikes me into two.
You sit in your broken car,
and weep for it.
The story is now complete! Below the cut you will find the entirety of Terra Nova in one easy-to-access post! You guys are the best, my first long fic experience in this community was pretty incredible! <3 Thanks again to @outside-the-government for the amazing prompt :)
Pairing: Reader X Bones
Warnings: Swearing, descriptions of childbirth, descriptions of explosions, tension, secondary character death