Uranus Is Secretly Amazing (So Knock Off The Fart Jokes)

Thanks to the magic of science, we now know that the planet Uranus smells like rotten eggs. This revelation came after scientists from the University of Oxford used an interplanetary spectrometer to analyze the molecular composition of the planet's upper atmosphere and confirm a long-held theory that the planet is shrouded in hydrogen sulfide -- a fart cloud that anyone who winds up living there will have to deal with, presumably by opening a space window, lighting a space match, or telling the other colonists to "give it ten minutes out there, if I were you."

This might seem like a weird thing for scientists to focus on over, say, figuring out how to get there or finding out whether the planet hosts any alien species with future tech we can steal, but there's a method to the apparent madness. Determining this is an important step in understanding how the planet formed -- knowledge that we can extrapolate out to other planets and, over time, use to build a clearer picture of the literally cosmic miracle that is the Solar System.

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Except you wouldn't guess at any of this, because when it comes to Uranus, the media can't help but make the same joke over ...

Time

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... and over ...

Science Alert

... and over again.

Vice

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It's old, it's tired, and most importantly, it's not funny. Someone was able to trace its first usage back to the 1800s, and while it probably killed back then it's now the de facto joke for any news relating to the planet. Imagine a world in which every news story about chickens was headlined with a reference to "How did the chicken cross the road?" whether or not it makes any sense to, and you've got an idea of where we're at.

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It's a huge shame that this represents our sum knowledge of the planet, because Uranus is so much more than butt puns. This latest finding joins a wealth of other facts about the planet, including that its surface is covered in stripes, like Jupiter, and plays host to violent storms caused by the fact that the planet orbits on its side (so that the poles directly face the Sun), which itself was caused by something smashing into the planet during its formative years. This impact also created the planet's numerous moons -- 27, to be exact -- and we can't seem to stop finding them, like someone up there is spamming a "infinite celestial objects" cheat code. These moons also have literature smarts too, having been named after characters from Shakespeare, unlike other planets' moons that are named after gods.

Courtesy NASA/JPL-CaltechYou big, beautiful, lopsided quadruple threat, you.

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Uranus is kinda like that kid from school whose parents gave them a weird name, and they responded by overcompensating in every aspect of their studies, but never got any credit because no one can get over the fact that their name is Buttfart.

And Buttfart the Planet could really do with our help. It's thought that the planet tends to be overlooked because the last expedition there was in 1986 with Voyager 2, and even that small amount of media buzz was cut short by a horrifying space disaster. It's inevitable that we'll go back one day -- missions are being proposed all the time -- but it'd be swell if, for the time being, we focused on making the planet seem like a worthwhile, interesting place to visit, rather than a punchline writ large -- not least because Futurama smoked all your asses years ago.

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook, and has a newsletter about depressing history that you should definitely subscribe to.

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