10 Facts About the Universe You Probably Didn’t Know



1. Hungry?

You can’t smell space directly, but astronauts report that their gear often smells like seared steak, hot metal, and arc welding fumes. Tasty! I’m gonna mig a medium-rare t-bone on some stainless steel right now.

2. Interstellar Ale, Anyone?

About 10,000 light-years away in the constellation Aquila,  there is an ethyl alcohol cloud 1,000 times larger than our solar system. A perfect pairing for that mig steak.

3. You just might be an alien

According to the late astronomer Fred Hoyle, we really do come from the stars. His theory stated that life, as we know it, actually formed in space, spreading throughout the entire universe, with some of that life falling to Earth. He also stated that evolution was influenced by comet-borne viruses that also fell here on Earth.

4. Cosmic speeding

Next time you’re pulled over for speeding, tell the cop that he was actually doin’ 62 million mph, or 100 million km/hr. That’s how fast the Milky Way Galaxy is spinning. It might get you out of a ticket (probably not).

5. Something’s Rotten in Puppis

5,000 light-years from here, the Rotten Egg nebula is really causing a stink. Sulfur is the element that gives that notorious rotten egg smell to anything that contains it. While you won’t be able to smell it for yourself, you can see this dying star in the southern part of the constellation Puppis.

6. Playing Chicken with Andromeda

The Andromeda galaxy is heading straight for us, and refuses to get out of the way. No need to prepare a hysteric(al) exit plan though–the collision itself won’t happen for another 3 billion years.

7. Talk about being in the Dark…

All known matter makes up only about 5% of the universe. Dark matter makes up about 27%, with dark energy comprising the remaining 68%. Some scientists are calling this dark energy quintessence, after the fifth element of the Greek philosophers. In spite of substantial research, scientists still know very little about dark matter or dark energy.

8. Now That’s a Diamond!

50 light-years from Earth, scientists have discovered the largest diamond in history. It’s about 4,000km in diameter with a core of 10 billion trillion trillion carats, or 1031 carats.

9. Cold Welding for Real

When in outer space, if you touch one piece of metal to another, they stick together. The only thing that may prevent this phenomenon is the oxide layer on metal brought from Earth. The vacuum of space is the key player here.

In the Feynman Lectures, Richard Feynman explained, “The reason for this unexpected behavior is that when atoms in contact are all of the same kind, there is no way for the atoms to ‘know’ they are in different pieces of copper. When there are other atoms, in the oxides and greases and more complicated thin surface layers of contaminants in between, the atoms ‘know’ when they are not on the same part.”

10. You Have (Inter)Stellar Vision

The Andromeda galaxy is so bright that you can see it with the naked eye, even though it’s 2.2 million light-years away.