5 of the Most Useless Facts Scientists Have Deduced About Space
Space — the final frontier. The vast expanse. The great unknowable. Take your pick of your favorite nerdy turn-of-phrase to describe it, one thing is for sure: There’s an absolute ton of it out there. It’s also a constant source of wonder and interest for geeks and people high on strong marijuana alike, due to its mysterious nature. Thanks to the efforts of science and strong telescopes, etc., we do know more about it than we ever have before, even if we’re still quite literally in the dark on the rest.
The question that remains, though, is, what exactly are any of us supposed to do about it? I can read the latest articles and follow the newest discoveries, but it all pretty much has jack-diddly-squat to do with my day-to-day life. Outside of a catastrophic meteor headed straight for the planet, in which case, I’d almost rather not know. For me, and most of us, space is like retirement: It seems cool, but there’s little to no chance I’ll ever personally experience it.
Along those lines, here are five of the most useless facts science has provided us with about outer space…
Parts of It Smell Like Rum
Let’s preface this by saying that even if you were able to get anywhere near the subject of this entry, popping that helmet off for a quick sniff is not an advisable course of action. I highly doubt this is advice or knowledge that affects anyone, but just in case you are living in the far future and somehow reading this off of some pinhead-sized flash drive record of the entire internet’s contents circa 2023, don’t take your helmet off in space. Though at this point you probably know that as part of your commute.
Anyways, back to the present day: There’s a cloud known as Sagittarius B2 that’s floating out in our own little Milky Way galaxy. That’s not particularly surprising or interesting, as space’s whole thing is that there’s a lot of stuff floating around in it. The unique part is that Sagittarius B2 is chock-full of ethyl formate, a chemical that you’ve almost definitely interacted with, because of its existence in alcohol. Specifically, it’s the chemical that gives rum its distinctive smell, meaning that, somewhere out in our galaxy, there’s a space cloud that, if you smelled it, would make you retch remembering your 21st birthday party.
A Year on Venus Is Shorter Than A Day on Venus
This next fact makes me absolutely furious, because of how much it makes my brain hurt. I know it shouldn’t, and it’s a perfectly logical explanation of what is considered a “day” and a “year” in an astronomical sense, but I can’t help it. It sounds like the answer to a shitty riddle someone you don’t want to be talking to would ask you. I’m just trying to piss at a house party and now some guy in a Rick and Morty shirt is asking me “where is a year shorter than a day?” like a poorly socialized sphinx? No thank you.
Yet, to my displeasure, it is in fact true. A year on Venus is shorter than a day, even though that is not what we have agreed those words mean like 99 percent of the time. It’s because Venus spins incredibly slowly on its axis, so much so that it completes a full revolution around the Sun before it rotates a full 360 degrees. Just know it makes my brain tingle in the same mildly irritated way it probably does yours. I wish I could shove this whole paragraph in a locker.
There’s A Huge Diamond Out There
If the last entry sounds like the plot of a boring sci-fi story, this one sounds like the opening of the greatest heist movie of all time. That is, there is a 11-billion-year-old diamond the size of Planet Earth somewhere out in space. If that’s a Netflix blurb, I’m watching it, no need to even add to queue. Just dim the lights and start explaining the unlikely crew of space bandits that are about to somehow tow this thing to an intergalactic pawn shop.
The diamond is actually a huge, dead star known as a white dwarf. Larger stars, like our Sun, which so generously provides us with melanoma and the ability to burn ants with a magnifying glass, end with a supernova, one of the coolest things I hope to never see. Smaller stars instead burn out and turn into white dwarves, and this one has cooled enough to turn to crystallized carbon, which we know better as a diamond. It’s so far away there’s nothing we can possibly do about it, but maybe, someday, we’ll figure out a way to send poor people there to harvest bits of it at great bodily danger to themselves.
We’re Eventually Going to Crash Into the Andromeda Galaxy
This falls squarely into the domain of things I just generally don’t want to know about. The science equivalent of a college roommate going, “Hey, want to smell something really bad?” Yet, unasked, scientists still insist on informing us that in approximately 4.5 billion years, our beloved Milky Way is going to get close and personal with the Andromeda galaxy. The good news is, it used to be 3.75 billion years. Nice! I can finish my book!
The article above also goes on to explain that this “collision” may not involve any actual celestial bodies colliding, but instead just moving through each other. Classic fucking science bullshit. You tell me we’re about to collide with another galaxy, and when I ask, “So Earth and all the planets we know are just going to smack into the Andromeda ones?” I get hit with a “well, not exactly.” Leave me alone! I’ll start caring about other galaxies when they start caring about my rent!
God, I despise whoever first brought this mindfuck into being. Every time I remember it, the next 30 minutes are pure psychological torture. Leave the cosmic horror to Lovecraft, please, and never mention this to me or any weed dealer ever again. Discussions about the universe being infinite have ruined more highs than fentanyl.