Uranus Is Leaking Gas Into Space Which Is Totally Natural and Ok

Uranus leaking gas into space
(NASA.gov)

Space is a beautiful and mysterious thing, and though we’ve spent quite a bit of time exploring and investigating, there’s still a lot we don’t know. In fact, it’s safe to say we hardly know anything about space (at least outside of our own galaxy). Scientists have only been able to explore about 4% of the visible universe, meaning there are still a ton of unknowns. The past year has been a big one for space science, with the discovery of moon water and NASA sending their first privately-built capsule into orbit.

Now, scientists have discovered something unusual about our most joked-about planet – and honestly, this news really doesn’t help its cause. Uranus is leaking gas, which is totally natural and ok and not something to laugh about. Every 17 hours, Uranus lets one rip right into space.

Ok, so it’s not so much a rip as it is a big gas-leaking opening. Most planets rotate fairly closely to their plane of orbit (Earth rotates at around 23 degrees), but Uranus challenges the norm by rotating roughly 98% away from its plane of orbit. If you were to watch Uranus in orbit, it would look as if it was spinning on its side.

Because of its unusual rotation, Uranus’s magnetic field (or magnetosphere) is a bit odd as well. Every 17 hours, Uranus hits an angle that allows solar winds to blow right through, passing gas through Uranus and right back into space. Xin Cao and Carol Paty from the Georgia Institute of Technology modeled the planet’s magnetosphere and made the surprising discovery, which lined up with evidence found by NASA’s Voyager 2.

Their research article explained that when the Voyager 2 entered Uranus’s magnetosphere, it was unlike other planets they’d previously seen. The planet’s magnetosphere essentially opens and shuts letting solar wind through, which is highly unusual. This passing of wind gives the planet beautiful auras, which was spotted by the Voyager 2.

Uranus Gas
(NASA.gov)

If we can learn anything from Uranus, it’s that passing gas is natural. And sometimes, it even makes you look cooler (though we’re still studying that phenomenon in humans – so far, inconclusive).

NASA Astronauts Bring Baby Yoda To Outer Space on Historic SpaceX Flight

Baby Yoda In Space
(YouTube/NASATV)

‘Baby Yoda’ was the breakout hit as a cultural icon from season 1 of “The Mandalorian” on Disney+ and now ‘The Child’ has reached new heights, literally. A Baby Yoda toy was brought on board the SpaceX flight by NASA astronauts and the little guy hitched a ride to outer space over the weekend.

We’ve seen Baby Yoda as a LEGO creation, and as a hit in Build-A-Bear, but this is the first time we’ve seen a version of him where he’s seen most; inside of a spaceship. SpaceX launched four NASA astronauts on a taxi flight to the International Space Station. It’s a landmark first for SpaceX and of course, so who wouldn’t want to bring Baby Yoda to space to celebrate?

The Child actually was tucked along for the adventure in the Crew Dragon spaceship for an important role, the plush toy was the crew’s zero-gravity indicator. Once the ship is officially ‘out of this world’ the toy begins to float. The NASA crew kept it under tight wraps who their “fifth” passenger was until they were en route to the ISS.

It was left as a surprise to those watching the Livestream, and one of the astronauts told SpaceX mission control “Baby Yoda says you guys can come back on board,” informing mission control they could turn the cameras back on once the astronauts got situated for the journey.

“We’ve got Baby Yoda on board trying to take a seat right now,” one of the NASA people said on the live stream. You can then see the little guy floating around the Crew Dragon, and you can easily picture him in another episode of ‘The Mandalorian’, although this time he’s jet-setting around a galaxy much closer to home.

Buzzkill Astronomers Determine Aliens Not Causing Odd Radio Bursts From Space

magnetars cause space bursts
(Getty/Joe McNally)

Among all the other things happening in 2020, science keeps randomly popping up with potentially game-changing news. At one point we even thought there was a parallel universe out there somewhere (though we quickly learned that was not the case), and even more recently, scientists discovered the potential for life on Venus – or at least in the clouds around the planet – and water on the Moon.

One of the most provocative stories out of the scientific sector this year has been repeated speculation about strange occurrences that everyone was hoping would be proof of the existence of aliens.

Back in the spring, the United States government acknowledged that they don’t have an answer for the way a variety of aircraft behaved in encounters with military personnel, and even created a task force to look into these UFOs, or, as they referred to them, “off-world vehicles.”

And now they are searching for an explanation for some unexpected radio signals emanating from somewhere in our galaxy.

For the first time ever, scientists have detected “fast radio bursts,” FRBs, from inside the Milky Way. FRBs are short but powerful signals – they can be 100 times more powerful than the sun – and no one knows where they’re originating from.

“There’s this great mystery as to what would produce these great outbursts of energy, which until now we’ve seen coming from halfway across the universe,” Kiyoshi Masui, assistant professor of physics at MIT, told the Independent. “This is the first time we’ve been able to tie one of these exotic fast radio bursts to a single astrophysical object.”

These signals were first detected on April 27, and in the era of our bizarro 2020, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if this was the year that aliens decided to make a cameo.

Turns out astronomers have discovered the likely source by tracing it back to a powerful magnetic star in our galaxy.

Three independent teams of international astronomers published three separate papers determining the likely culprit: magnetars.

Magnetars are a neutron star, the collapsed core of a massive star that exploded. They are spheres roughly the size of New York, but so dense that a LEGO-sized piece would weigh as much as one trillion kilos. While the magnetic field of a neutron star is trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, a magnetar’s is 1,000 times more than that.

Astronomers used two different telescopes to capture an FRB burst from the same region of the sky and determined it had originated from SGR 1935+2154, a known magnetar.

Classic SGR 1935+2154!

Which kind of makes sense, because why would anyone – alien or not – want to come to earth right now? But there’s still a glimmer of hope that the Loch Ness Monster makes an appearance this year.

In Historic First, NASA Landed a Spacecraft on a Freaking Asteroid

Nasa Lands Spacecraft on Asteroid
(Twitter/OSIRISREx)

In a mission years in the making, NASA sent a probe 200-million miles into space, to Bennu, an ancient asteroid, to collect mineral samples. Despite years of launching and the need to navigate through building size boulders on the surface, just to land in a tiny clearing the size of a few parking spots, NASA was able to thread the needle and successfully land and collect the sample.

It’s been a pretty cool year for space stuff, all things considered. Sure, we had a chicken nugget become the first of its kind to leave Earth, but we also learned some things about aliens and found a lot of water on the moon. Add in LANDING ON AN ASTEROID to the mix, and there’s plenty to be psyched about if you’re a space nerd. We can say, without question, 2020 is going much better once you leave the planet.

The NASA Osiris-Rex spacecraft launched on its mission in September 2016 and the success of the TAG (tag-and-go) landing is an incredible win for NASA, space exploration, and even the history of our planet. Bennu is thought to be an ancient carbon-rich asteroid, full of the stuff that may have seeded life on our planet. The resources on Bennu are the “building blocks of life and planets” according to NASA.

We’ll get to see what it’s really all about when Osiris-Rex comes home…in 2023. Hey, it’s space, and the darn thing is literally 200 million miles away. And scientists have said if it’s able to return successfully, that we’ll be studying the samples and learning from them for ‘generations to come.’

If you’re into that sort of thing or have kids that are, you can watch the momentous event in real-time.

You can track the journey home over the next three years by keeping tabs on the mission website.

12-Yr-Old Hiking With Dad Finds 69 Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Fossil

dad and son find fossil
(Facebook/Natureconservancy.ca)

Encouraging your kid’s hobbies is one of the best things you can do as a dad. It creates a chance for you to bond, it encourages their interests, and sometimes you find a 69 million-year-old dinosaur fossil. You know, just your average father-son bonding activity.

12-year-old Nathan Hrushkin is an aspiring paleontologist, and his dad took him hiking in a conservation area in Alberta. It was there young Nathan discovered partially exposed bones, which his amateur paleontology skills told him were important. And it turns out they were right because once experts examined the photographs and went to the site, they found a whole lot more ancient dinosaur bones. Eventually enough to determine they were from a hadrosaur from 69 million years ago. That’s even cooler than finding a 3 million-year-old shark tooth.

The discovery was classified as a significant one, which is quite the feather in the cap of an amateur paleontologist. Nathan told the Nature Conservancy of Canada that he’s wanted to be a paleontologist for years.

“I am fascinated about how bones from creatures that lived tens of millions of years ago become these fossil rocks, which are just sitting on the ground waiting to be found,” he said. “My dad and I have been visiting this property for a couple years, hoping to find a dinosaur fossil….we knew we’d found something this time.”

The curator of Dinosaur Paleoecology at the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Paleontology, who worked the dig site, said the hadrosaur was only three or four years old and that it will help them learn a lot about the dino.

“It’s a very important discovery because it comes from a time interval for which we know very little about what kind of dinosaurs or animals lived in Alberta,” he said.

I have a feeling Nathan and his dad are going to be on a lot more hikes after that historic find.

NASA Found Water on the Moon

Moon Water
(Twitter/NASA)

NASA revealed some major news Monday, announcing they have discovered water on the moon. And, possibly, like, a lot of it. This news was blasted across the NASA communication matrix, including an emoji-filled tweet, which doesn’t feel like the most authentic way to broadcast a major scientific discovery but hey, it is 2020.

It’s been a terrible year on Earth, but a cool year for space. We got confirmation the Pentagon recovered “off-world vehicles” and a chicken nugget became the first of its kind to reach space.

And now we have moon water.

In a press conference, NASA discussed the two groundbreaking studies and the accompanying data to back up the discovery of water on the sunlit side of the moon, along with the possibility that there is much more water than previously believed (or hypothesized) on the moon.

“For the first time, water has been confirmed to be present on the sunlit surface of the moon,” said the director of the astrophysics division at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate during the press conference.

“We had indications that H2O — the familiar water we know — might be present on the sunlit side of the moon. Now we know it is there. This discovery challenges our understanding of the lunar surface and raises intriguing questions about resources relevant for deep space exploration.”

The agency detected the water with the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy airborne telescope. The SOFIA is basically a plane with a huge telescope in it. And it has space geeks excited that water can exist in the harsh circumstances on the surface of the moon and the possibility we could use more of the moon’s resources in future explorations.

Not only could we drink the moon water, if we were ever seriously planning to colonize the moon, having a source of water is absolutely essential for the splash park (no society can exist without one).

Monday’s announcement also included data from a second study that hypothesized many dark pockets on the moon could be filled with moon ice (some of these have been in darkness for billions of years). Further study needs to be done to map out just how much water is on the moon, but from a science standpoint, it was a big breakthrough for NASA.

Frozen Foods Company Makes History by Sending the First Chicken Nugget to Space

Nugget Launched into Space
(Facebook/Iceland Foods)

One small trip for a chicken nugget, one giant leap for the only food my kids will eat. A frozen-foods company made history this year by launching the first chicken nugget into space. The nugget now joins the elite class of various astronauts and assorted animals as the first of their kind to leave the planet.

Iceland Foods was the British company that celebrated their 50th anniversary by launching it into space. It’s been a great year for space, with the news the Pentagon had recovered off-world vehicles and the NASA dads making their trip outta here in a SpaceX vehicle. And now, this:

The company used a space-marketing company (which…is a thing that exists, I guess) to launch their nugget, which was secured to a weather balloon and cameras during its ascent miles into the atmosphere. It reached an altitude of 111,000 feet, which the company said translated into about 880,000 nuggets. The best part is you can watch it float away, and then come crashing back down to earth (at a speed of 200 mph) as all dreamers do eventually.

The nugget looked to be in good shape, especially as it hit temperatures approaching negative 100 degrees, but there is no word yet on what “out of this world” tastes like.

14-Yr-Old Wins $25K for Discovery That Could Help Defeat COVID

Anika Chebrolu covid
(YouTube/Anika Chebrolu)

As if 2020 weren’t bad enough, now teenagers are outperforming us!

Thankfully, 14-year-old Anika Chebrolu’s work should benefit all of us. Anika was recently named the 2020 winner of 3M’s Young Scientist Challenge, and she did it for a project that couldn’t be more important right now.

With her project, titled “Combating the COVID-19 Pandemic: In-Silico Molecular Docking Study of Spike Protein of SARS-CoV-2 virus to develop Novel Antiviral drug”, Anika discovered a molecule that can *checks notes* selectively bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And apparently, that’s good news!

“The last two days, I saw that there is a lot of media hype about my project since it involves the SARS-CoV-2 virus and it reflects our collective hopes to end this pandemic as I, like everyone else, wish that we go back to our normal lives soon,” Anika told CNN

The discovery netted Anika, an Indian American, a victory in the challenge, and $25,000 to go with it. And she won after switching gears midway through. Initially, her project, which she started when she was in 8th grade, had nothing to do with COVID-19.

“After spending so much time researching about pandemics, viruses and drug discovery, it was crazy to think that I was actually living through something like this,” Anika said. “Because of the immense severity of the Covid-19 pandemic and the drastic impact it had made on the world in such a short time, I, with the help of my mentor, changed directions to target the SARS-CoV-2 virus.”

And she’s not done. She plans to continue her work and hopes to collaborate with other scientists to create an actual cure for the virus.

“My effort to find a lead compound to bind to the spike protein of the SARS-CoV-2 virus this summer may appear to be a drop in the ocean, but still adds to all these efforts,” she said. “How I develop this molecule further with the help of virologists and drug development specialists will determine the success of these efforts.”

You can learn more about Anika, and watch her entry video which details her project, on the 3M Young Scientist Lab website.

YouTuber Creates Real-Life Lightsaber With Retractable Blade

First Retractable Lightsaber
(YouTube/The Hacksmith)

When you’re a little kid, nothing is better than dressing up and playing pretend. Whether it’s cops and robbers, superheroes and supervillains, GI. Joe and Cobra, Care Bears and No Heart, it’s a ton of fun to pretend you and your friends are good guys and bad guys engaged in battle.

When I was little, it was all about Star Wars. My best friend and I would reenact scenes from the original trilogy, doing our best to put together our best cosplay (before it was called cosplay) to convincingly portray Luke and Han and Darth and the Emperor.

Nowadays, plenty of adults do the same thing (NO JUDGMENT), and thanks to one intrepid YouTuber, it just got a lot easier to pretend to be a Jedi.

James Hobson has been trying to make a “real” lightsaber and it seems he’s finally pulled it off. James runs the YouTube channel “The Hacksmith,” where 10 million subscribers watch his impressive videos. His latest features the creation of a retractable, plasma-based lightsaber. And it’s insane.

In the video, he explains his methodology, including how he’s able to change the color of the beam, and the end result is very convincing, save for the custom-built backpack that powers the weapon. Over 2 million people have viewed the video on YouTube!

It’s safe to say that after this impressive display, The Hacksmith has the high ground.

Astronaut Dad Steps Down From Launch To Attend His Daughter’s Wedding

Chris Ferguson steps down from spaceflight program after realizing he'd miss his daughter's wedding
(Twitter/Astro_Ferg, Facebook/NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

When dads hold their daughters for the first time, they inevitably think of all the things they’ll one day do together. Teaching her to ride a bike, dropping her off at her first day of school, and one day, walking her down the aisle. It’s a dad’s worst nightmare, missing out on big moments in their kids’ lives.

Even if it’s completely inevitable, missing a single one of our kids’ milestones is heartbreaking. Once those life-changing moments have passed, we can’t get them back. Chris Ferguson realized that being the commander of Boeing’s first crewed flight meant that he’d miss out on one of the most important days of his daughter’s life, and he knew he couldn’t let that happen.

On the day of his daughter’s wedding next year, Ferguson was supposed to be on the International Space Station. This would have been the astronaut’s fourth trip to space, the first three taking place between 2006 and 2011 during his time with NASA. Ferguson had been training diligently for the Boeing Starliner mission, which has been grounded until at least the end of this year due to software issues during its first test flight.

Being a member of the Starliner crew was enormously important to the seasoned astronaut, but in a video Ferguson posted on Twitter last week, he explained that there was something in his personal life that took priority.

“I’m taking on a new mission, one that keeps my feet planted here firmly on Earth and prioritizes my most important crew – my family,” Ferguson captioned the video. “I’ll still be working hard with the #Starliner team and the @NASA_Astronauts on our crew.”

The video begins with Ferguson explaining his difficult decision to step down from his role as commander of next year’s crewed flight test. He explains his passion for human spaceflight and dedication to the Starliner program, “but next year is very important for my family,” says Ferguson.

“I’m not going anywhere. I’m just not going into space next year,” Ferguson states before expressing his appreciation to Boeing and his crew for their understanding.

The clear solution here would have been getting married in space, but people get pretty uptight about destination weddings. This dedicated dad is forgoing a trip to space to attend his daughter’s wedding, but it’s a sacrifice he’s more than willing to make for his family. Some dads are good, some dads are great, but Chris Ferguson is out of this world.

Who Has “Loch Ness Monster Cameo” on Their 2020 Bingo Card?

Loch Ness Monster Sonar
(Getty/Keystone/Stringer)

2020 has been a crazy year, that just sort of keeps snowballing. At this point, is there anything that can surprise you? OK, well how about the LOCH NESS MONSTER! Chatter about the fabled monster has ratcheted up in recent days after a sailor detected a 30-ft long…something hundreds of feet below the surface of the loch. Did the boat’s sonar detect Nessie? I mean, is it really that crazy for this year?

It’s a bonkers year for the obvious reasons, like that global pandemic thingy you may or may not have heard of (corona-something). But also for the way less obvious reasons, like scientists admitting the Pentagon had recovered OFF-WORLD VEHICLES. Hey, it’s 2020, anything is possible.

Ronald Mackenzie detected the creature late last month and the dad of three told The Sun there is definitely something down there.

“I believe there is something big living deep down in the Loch,” he said. “Who knows what it can be, but I would love to think it’s Nessie…it is something which is feeding on eels or trout. It is quite unusual.”

Sonar experts have confirmed the image, stating that it does prove “something” is down there. Now, is it a giant leap to assume “something” is the Loch Ness monster? I mean, probably, yeah. But is it possible? That is also a yes, and in 2020, that is just enough of an opening for something bizarre to finally come out.

“I’ve been on the loch since I was 16 years old and I have never seen anything like it,” Mackenzie said.

Man Creates Candy-Delivering Robot to Save Neighborhood’s Halloween

Candy Robot
(Courtesy Luke Keyes)

Halloween will be different this year, but it doesn’t have to mean canceling trick-or-treating. It just means trying a little harder sometimes, or being a little more creative. Exhibit A, a man in Austin who has perfected a way to hand out candy and maintain social distance, with the help of his robot.

Halloween is a great holiday for kids, and dads usually go hard to make it special (and take their cut of the candy).

Luke Keyes, a software engineer, said he and his wife really love Halloween. Every year they run a “Haunted Science Lab” in their garage, which has become a neighborhood hit. So much so that kids had already been asking the couple about the 2020 version. But then COVID, so Luke got creative.

“We were torn because we knew someone who died of COVID early on, and I have allergy-induced asthma,” he told The Dad, “but we love Halloween and love seeing how our haunted garage helps bring the neighborhood together.” He said he came up with a “candy cannon” that shot out candy like confetti but didn’t think that would be a practical solution to the holiday (although he did use it as his wedding and to entertain neighborhood kids at other community events).

Then he arrived at a solution. Enter Artie, his robot. Keyes has been working on his robot for several years (as an 80s kid, he said he was inspired by the many robots in movies), and takes him to STEM events around town, so he’s seen how kids will interact with it. He figured out he could adjust his height, make him look friendly, and drive him around to kids’ houses in the neighborhood to deliver candy. The neighborhood is even talking about possibly having a Halloween parade, with Artie as the grand marshall and other neighbors following to throw candy out to kids at their driveways.

Ultimately, Keyes said he hopes people can find creative ways to celebrate in their own community, even if they don’t have an Artie at the ready.

“I just want to make this year memorable for all the kids in a good way, and I’m glad I can use Artie to do that,” he said. “To me, Halloween is even better than Christmas. With Christmas, you give gifts to friends and family. With Halloween, you give gifts to everyone.”

And don’t worry, when it comes to candy, Keyes and Artie are giving out the good stuff.

Japan Builds 59-Foot Gundam Robot THAT CAN MOVE ON ITS OWN

Japan's Gundam Robot is Moving
(Twitter/catsuka)

There is big news if you’re a fan of either anime or giant robots capable of taking over the world and enslaving mankind. Engineers at the Gundam Factory in Japan have built a life-sized giant Gundam robot, built with a mechanical skeleton so it can move on its own.

If you’re an anime fan, you’re already aware of the booming popularity. And if you’re a fan of robots, well, you know they’re going to take over the world. Sure, they start by doing simple chores like mowing the lawn and cleaning your floors, but even after a self-driving car killed an autonomous robot, people still think it’s a good idea to start building them this big.

If you’re a numbers guy, the Yokohama Gundam is 59 feet tall and weighs 55,000 pounds. I’m not sure if I mentioned this but it can MOVE ON ITS OWN. For now, anime fans see the robot at the Gundam factory outside Tokyo. Soon, they will be able to see them stomping all over cities around the world (probably).

The huge robot, based on the wildly popular Gundam robot from the anime series Mobile Suit Gundam from the 70s (thanks, Wikipedia) started earlier this year. And if this is where we’re at now, it’s not hard to imagine a future where these things are EVERYWHERE.

It’s not the only Gundam replica in Japan, but the RX-78-2 Gundam robot is the only one that can move.

Definitely an astonishing engineering feat. But perhaps they were too preoccupied with whether or not they could, instead of asking if they should.