COSMIC CURIOSITIES

10 Outer Space Facts That Will Blow Your Mind


Published on January 30, 2024


Credit: Graham Holtshausen

Exploring our surroundings is part of human nature . Thus, humankind has explored the heights of mountains and the depths of oceans. But since our hunger for knowledge is boundless, our curiosity extends to outer space, too.

The vastness and beauty of space leave us breathless, and while we've been studying it for ages, there is still so much we don't know about it.

Luckily, there are some things we do know. In this article, we'll tell you 10 amazing facts you probably didn't know about outer space!

1

Mars has a volcano larger than Mount Everest

Credit: Nicolas Lobos

Olympus Mons is its name, and it is almost three times bigger than our Everest .

As you probably already know, Everest is the highest mountain on Earth, standing an astounding 5.5 miles above sea level. Huge, right? But wait, Everest looks like a baby compared to the dimensions of Olympus Mons.

At an impressive 13.6 miles in height and some 435 miles across , this Martian giant claims the title of the largest known volcano in our Solar System .

It is located in the Tharsis Montes, a volcanic region in Mars' western hemisphere, and the crater at its summit****is no small feat either, measuring about 53 miles in diameter !

2

Moonwalkers' footprints will remain there for millions of years

Credit: NASA

Weather conditions or other people's footsteps will surely erase the prints you once left on the beach. Footprints on Earth can be ephemeral, but the same is not true on the Moon.

Did you know that the step marks left by astronauts who walked on the Moon more than 50 years ago are still there? And they will likely remain for millions of years.

While this may seem impossible to believe, it is true thanks to the Moon's unique conditions. Although some properties of the Moon could indeed alter its surface, their effect has proven to be very slight. With no rain or wind to erase them, the human footprints left there can still be seen.

3

When you look at the stars you see the past

Credit: Jeremy Perkins

Have you ever dreamed of time travel ? So do we! Whether to fix past mistakes or to take a walk through history, the desire to travel back in time is universal.

Although using a time machine is not (yet) possible, there is an alternative: looking at the night sky. Yes, it's that simple.

Given the vast distances, light from the stars takes years to reach us. So, when you look at the stars, you are actually seeing what they looked like many years ago.

Do you wonder if that star still exists? Well, it's a mystery.

4

Our galaxy will collide with another

Credit: Tengyart

Let's talk about fates. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is destined to collide with our neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy .

Of course, there will be chaos, but although this sounds like a tragedy, the merge of these two will lead to the emergence of a new and more complex galaxy .

Anyway, this will happen in about 4 billion years . It's not something that should stress you out.

5

A day is longer than a year on Venus

Credit: NASA

A place where a day lasts longer than a year : This fact may seem crazy, but let's examine it in detail.

For a planet, a year is the time it takes to complete one revolution around the Sun. In contrast, day is the time it takes for a planet to make one complete rotation about its axis.

Venus not only rotates in the opposite direction of Earth but also does so at a relatively slow pace. Venus takes 243 Earth days to rotate on its axis . On the other hand, it takes 225 Earth days to go around the Sun. That is, it takes longer to complete a day than a year.

Fun fact: as the planet rotates backward, the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east there.

6

Mars has bluish sunsets

Credit: Martin Jernberg

Speaking of crazy sunsets, this one will blow your mind.

Ah, nothing like watching a beautiful sunset, right? Those orange, red, and even pink shades have moved poets and inspired artists since ancient times.

But if we lived on Mars, things would turn a little blue. According to NASA, a sunset on the Red Planet would appear bluish to the human eye , thanks to its atmosphere, which is dominated by large dust particles. These particles filter out the Sun's red light, allowing the blues to make their way into our sight.

7

Neptune has completed only one orbit around the Sun since 1846

Credit: NASA

Neptune is more than 30 times as far from the Sun as Earth. In fact, it is the farthest planet from the Sun , and, unlike Venus, its days are much (much) shorter than its years. A day on Neptune lasts about 16 Earth hours, while a year on this ice giant takes 165 Earth years!

That's right, cold Neptune has only gone around the Sun once since its discovery in 1846.

Next time you find yourself stressing about taking too long to complete a task, just think of Neptune. Suddenly, you are not doing so badly, right?

8

The Moon is lemon-shaped

Credit: Ganapathy Kumar

From Earth, we see the Moon as this beautiful, luminous sphere that understands our night sorrows, but its reality is quite different.

In fact, our Moon not only has no light of its own, but it is not even a sphere , at least not a perfect one.

You can grab a rubber ball and gently squeeze its opposite sides to get a rough idea of the Moon's shape . Another way to picture its figure is to look at a lemon, with its irregularities and all.

Let's not leave aside the lesson: its imperfection does not make it any less beautiful.

9

The Moon is moving away

Credit: Nathan Anderson

We have another piece of news about the Moon : it is moving away from us. The good part is that it is not that determined to leave us since it is moving only 1.5 inches per year .

Currently, the space between our planet and the Moon could fit about 30 Earths, which is already a lot. But it seems that our Moon needs more room.

The Moon's gradual receding from the Earth happens due to gravitational interactions between the two celestial bodies. When this occurs, the Earth's rotation slows down, and the Moon moves into a more distant orbit.

10

Saturn has more than 100 moons

Credit: NASA

Imagine looking up at the night sky and seeing not one but two moons. It would be moving, wouldn't it? Now, if you increase the number to five or ten moons, things can start to look a little weird.

Jupiter has 95 moons, which already seems overwhelming. But Saturn beats it by far, with 145 moons discovered so far around the planet.

With this number, Saturn has more moons than all the other planets in the Solar System combined!


THE GAME IS ON

Take a Dive into these 12 Sports Terms


Published on January 30, 2024


Credit: Jannes Glass

Each sport has its slang, shared by both players and fans as an inside language meant for those in the know. These words and expressions come from all over the place, with origins as varied as the messages they convey.

While some are secret words only used within the realm of the sport, others are very well known and have transcended barriers to become part of the universal lexicon. On this list, we've gathered some terms that made the jump from sports to everyday life. Care to take a look and see how many of these you know?

1

Beat Someone to the Punch

Credit: Johann Walter Bantz

The phrase "beat someone to the punch" is one of those expressions that has made its way into pop culture. It originates from the world of boxing, where landing a punch before your opponent can be a game-changer.

Imagine a boxer anticipating their opponent's move, reacting quickly, and delivering a punch before the adversary can counter. That's the essence of "beating someone to the punch." Beyond boxing, this phrase transmits the importance of quick thinking and staying one step ahead.

2

Get the Ball Rolling

Credit: Travel Nomads

"Get the ball rolling" is another one of those multi-purpose phrases that has transcended its realm. Rooted in sports, particularly those in which a literal rolling-of-the-ball gets the game in motion, this idiom has transcended its athletic origins to become a versatile expression applicable in various contexts. It embodies the concept of taking the first step to activate a process or activity.

3

Drop the Ball

Credit: Muyuan Ma

"Drop the ball" transcends its literal origins to become a metaphor for missed opportunities and blunders. Originating from the world of football, where a dropped ball signifies a failed play, the term has evolved to encapsulate moments of failure and disappointment across not only various sports but everyday life as well.

When an athlete or an everyday person "drops the ball," it means more than a mistake. It embodies a lapse in concentration, a missed chance to capitalize on a critical situation.

4

Hail Mary

Credit: leah hetteberg

Very few sports phrases carry as much drama as "Hail Mary." Originating from American football, this term describes a last-ditch, long-distance pass typically thrown in the last moments of a game. The name draws inspiration from a Christian prayer, emphasizing the low probability and high stakes of this bold play.

These days, "Hail Mary" is a metaphor for any last-minute attempt at success. Whether in business or personal endeavors, invoking the spirit of the "Hail Mary" signifies taking a bold leap with the outcome hanging in the air.

5

Monday Morning Quarterback

Credit: Riley McCullough

The term "Monday Morning Quarterback" has become a staple in sports slang, describing the hindsight wisdom of fans or criticizing decisions made during a game, particularly in football. Coined from the idea that everyone seems to have a game plan on Monday, this phrase embodies the post-game analysis that occurs with the benefit of hindsight.

6

Pull One's Punches

Credit: Hermes Rivera

The phrase "to pull one's punches" emerges from the world of boxing, where precision and strategy are extremely important. To "pull one's punches" means to deliberately lessen the force or impact of a blow, demonstrating restraint and calculated finesse in the heat of competition.

Beyond the ring, the phrase has permeated various other sports and everyday language, symbolizing the art of strategic restraint. Whether in basketball, soccer, or business negotiations, the concept of pulling punches reflects the wisdom of holding back and strategically choosing when to unleash full force.

7

Win by a Nose

Credit: Julia Joppien

The phrase "to win by a nose" encapsulates the excitement of a victory achieved by the slightest margin. Originating from horse racing, where horses often cross the finish line with only a nose-length advantage, this sports slang has transcended its equestrian roots to describe triumphs in various athletic endeavors.

The term has also become a metaphor for success in activities outside the track. Whether in business, academics, or personal achievements, "winning by a nose" emphasizes the resilience and determination required to secure victory when the competition is stiff.

8

Knocked It Out of the Park

Credit: Joshua Peacock

You have heard this one for sure. The phrase "knocked it out of the park" stands as a beacon of success and accomplishment. Originating from the grandeur of baseball, where hitting a home run involves sending the ball soaring out of the stadium, this idiom has become a universal expression for achieving extraordinary feats.

The phrase has seamlessly integrated into everyday language, symbolizing exceptional achievements.

9

The Ball is in Your Court

Credit: John Fornander

Derived from the world of tennis, the phrase "the ball is in your court" is a popular idiom in everyday language. In tennis, when the ball is in a player's court, it signifies their responsibility to make the next move. This nuanced expression has found resonance beyond the tennis court, embodying the idea of personal accountability and decision-making.

In various settings, be it professional, personal, or otherwise, saying "the ball is in your court" implies that someone has the responsibility to take action or make a decision.

10

Cheap Shot

Credit: Gerhard Crous

Whether in sports or life, being on the receiving end of a "cheap shot" is never a good thing. Originating particularly in contact sports like boxing and hockey, a cheap shot refers to an unfair or unsportsmanlike move, often aimed at surprising an opponent or causing them harm.

The expression has grown past the sports realm and "cheap shot" has become a metaphor for any unethical tactic used in various aspects of life. Labeling an action as a "cheap shot" means an attempt to gain an advantage through not-so-fair means.

11

Take One for the Team

Credit: Keith Johnston

Someone who "takes one for the team" is sacrificing in favor of the collective effort. Originating from team sports, particularly in situations where an individual endures discomfort or adversity for the greater good of the team, this expression has found resonance beyond the athletic arena.

The phrase has become a metaphor for acts of sacrifice and altruism in various aspects of life. Whether in the workplace, friendships, or family dynamics, individuals who are willing to "take one for the team" exemplify the values of collaboration and putting the greater good above personal gain.

12

Behind the 8-ball

Credit: Sigmund

Anyone who ever played the game of pool knows that having your cue ball behind the 8 ball is a rough spot to be in. In the lexicon of sports slang, the phrase "behind the 8 ball" paints a vivid picture of facing challenges and adversity. The expression has been used to describe the hardships individuals encounter in sports and life.

Whether dealing with setbacks at work or personal life, being "behind the 8 ball" signifies the need for resilience and strategic thinking to turn the tide in one's favor.

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

quibble

/ˈkwɪb(ə)l/