Friday Fun Facts: Under the Sea and Outer Space Edition

October 20, 2017
The daily news feeds are not exactly uplifting, as of late. So I wanted to share some pretty interesting tidbits about stuff happening below the surface and beyond the cloud. 
  • Picking Up On Some Kilonova Vibes: In case you missed it, space is back! In

    August, scientists were able to witness (for the first time ever) a kilonova – when the cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other and exploded gamma rays throughout the universe. The event, which occurred some 130 million years ago, is the first cosmic event to be witnessed with telescopes and gravitational wave detectors – utilizing resources and researchers at more than 70 laboratories across all continents. Don’t worry, they took pics. Now enter the era of multi-messenger astrophysics!

  • So Where Is The Cheese? If those Kilonova images got you all fired up, you are going to love what Google Maps is offering – a digital glimpse of more than a dozen planets and moons throughout space! Using half a million images from the Cassini probe and other spacecrafts, Google Maps can now transport viewers to the surfaces of Pluto, Venus and several moons all with a few clicks! Or just watch an astronaut play with a fidget spinner in space. Not a fan of technology? You can still sneak a peek at the wonders above this Sunday when the Orionid meteor shower – considered to be “the most beautiful” – will occur. Just hop a ride on Trainy McTrainface to a prime lookout and enjoy the show.
  • Fly Me To The Moon: Holding out for the real thing? Not to worry! Why experience space through pictures, when you could cruise through the Milky Way on your very own inflatable space yacht?!?! (Oprah voice) Come 2022, all the cool kids will be chilling on the expandable space habitat working for big lunar businesses or the local moon government. No big deal.
  • This Space Is Filthy! The outer limits are not all exploding stars, emo-looking moons and floating astronauts. There is a lot of junk in space, apparently. And all that exploring and leaving our garbage behind has accumulated some 100 million pieces of science trash orbiting Mother Earth at 17,500 mph. Check out Adrift, a film investigating the potential hazard the floating junk poses to our satellites and future spacecrafts. Clean up in aisle space.
  • What Goes Up…After we frolic through space, what’s the return flight like? China’s first space laboratorylaunched in 2011 is on a literal crash course back to Earth after officials confirmed they lost control of it last September. The 8.5 ton laboratory, named Heavenly Palace, is expected to hurtle back to Earth sometime in 2017, with no strong guesses on where it might land. So, keep an eye out for that piece of space junk, in particular.
  • Making Waves: When that space lab crashes, I am sure there will be quite a splash. But it won’t be anything compared to the loudest underwater sound ever that was recorded in 1997 off the coast of Chile. The Bloop examines this scientific mystery that was detected by hydrophones 5,000 miles apart, lasted for one minute and has never been heard again!
  • Go Ask Flipper: Apparently humans aren’t that special. A study of dolphin, whale and porpoise species found those with bigger brains tend to live human-like lives. So those showboating Orcas at Sea World may just be the underwater version of the Kardashians, you never know! In other food chain news, scientists have reported a rise of alligator attacks on sharks. That’s right, in the battle of Lake Placid vs. Jaws, alligators are flipping the script and coming out on top in certain rivers and estuaries.
  • Vintage Genes…Some evolutionary advancements seem fast, while other undersea wonders have ancient roots. Paleontologists examined the hatchling of a sea turtle from the Eocene epoch and discovered it had a pigment-based survival trait common to modern sea turtles. The 54-million-year-old turtle hatchling had the same color patterns as current turtles – dark back with light edges – that provides protection against UV radiation from the sun. The dark skin increases their body temps so they grow faster and boosts survival rates – a phenomenon called adaptive melanism that has been preserved for millions of years. Slow and steady wins the race!