Always dreamed of flying? On these moons, you can.
There are places in our solar system where you can fly.
Dr. Michelle Thaller is an astronomer who studies binary stars and the life cycles of stars. She is Assistant Director of Science Communication at NASA. She went to college at Harvard University, completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif. then started working for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's (JPL) Spitzer Space Telescope. After a hugely successful mission, she moved on to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), in the Washington D.C. area. In her off-hours often puts on about 30lbs of Elizabethan garb and performs intricate Renaissance dances. For more information, visit NASA.
MICHELLE THALLER: Matt, you asked the question, can we go skateboarding on the moon or Mars? Or would this be more of a hoverboard scenario. Well, both the moon and Mars have a weaker surface gravity than the Earth does, so you don't weigh as much on the moon or Mars as you do here. But there still is enough gravity to stick you to the surface, so I think you could actually stay on your board and keep it down. You probably wouldn't accelerate as fast as you do here on Earth, so, for example, on earth you'd be going down a hill picking up speed. On the Moon and Mars, the gravity is weaker, so you wouldn't be picking up as much speed. So, in fact, skateboarding might be a little bit dull on the moon and Mars.
The good thing is that if you fall over, you also don't fall with the same force you would from the gravity of the Earth. So you'd probably be a bit safer. But the question actually kind of has got me thinking about what sort of sports you could do on some of the worlds in our solar system that you just could not do here at all. And there are several places in the solar system that have relatively low surface gravity. The gravity isn't as strong as here on the surface of the Earth, but they have thick atmospheres. There's a moon called Titan that orbits Saturn, and Titan's a really big object. I mean, physically, it's actually not that much smaller than the planet Mars. Titan's gravity isn't as strong as Earth's, but the atmosphere is actually thicker.
There's actually a little more air pressure on Titan than there is here on Earth. It's a very different sort of air. There's no oxygen. It's actually mostly nitrogen, a little bit of carbon dioxide. So you couldn't breathe. You'd have to bring a breathing apparatus. It's also very cold. It's about 300 degrees below zero. But if you had a really super-duper parka and you had a breathing apparatus, you could actually survive on the surface of Titan. There's air pressure. With air pressure and low gravity, you could actually strap large wings to your arms. I mean, imagine wings made of some wonderful, flexible metal, maybe like titanium. And if you jumped off a cliff, you could fly.
You could actually start flapping your wings and actually getting lift. And you could fly, just yourself, jumping off a cliff on Titan, and flying around in that thicker atmosphere. And there are other places where you have relatively low gravity but giant cliffs. For example, there's a moon of Uranus called Miranda, and Miranda has cliffs that are many miles high. So, you could jump off a cliff and fall very slowly and very gently down to the bottom. If you think about the idea of feather falling. That's something from Dungeons and Dragons, you can fall very carefully and not actually hurt yourself. There might be sport on Miranda like skydiving, but you don't need a parachute. You just float down very gently and land.
- Both the moon and Mars have a weaker surface gravity than the Earth does. The result? You don't weigh as much on either celestial body as you do here.
- On a moon called Titan that orbits Saturn, the gravity isn't as strong as Earth's, but the atmosphere is much thicker. In this world, it would be possible to strap wings to your arms and fly around.
- On a low-gravity moon called Miranda, just off the space coast of Uranus, there are cliffs that are many miles high. It would be possible to jump off a cliff here and fall very gently to the bottom.
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To create wiser adults, add empathy to the school curriculum.
- Stories are at the heart of learning, writes Cleary Vaughan-Lee, Executive Director for the Global Oneness Project. They have always challenged us to think beyond ourselves, expanding our experience and revealing deep truths.
- Vaughan-Lee explains 6 ways that storytelling can foster empathy and deliver powerful learning experiences.
- Global Oneness Project is a free library of stories—containing short documentaries, photo essays, and essays—that each contain a companion lesson plan and learning activities for students so they can expand their experience of the world.
Just before I turned 60, I discovered that sharing my story by drawing could be an effective way to both alleviate my symptoms and combat that stigma.
I've lived much of my life with anxiety and depression, including the negative feelings – shame and self-doubt – that seduced me into believing the stigma around mental illness: that people knew I wasn't good enough; that they would avoid me because I was different or unstable; and that I had to find a way to make them like me.
A joint study by two England universities explores the link between sex and cognitive function with some surprising differences in male and female outcomes in old age.
- A joint study by the universities of Coventry and Oxford in England has linked sexual activity with higher cognitive abilities in older age.
- The results of this study suggest there are significant associations between sexual activity and number sequencing/word recall in men. In women, however, there was a significant association between sexual activity in word recall alone - number sequencing was not impacted.
- The differences in testosterone (the male sex hormone) and oxytocin (a predominantly female hormone) may factor into why the male cognitive level changes much more during sexual activity in older age.
This is what the world will look like, 250 million years from now
To us humans, the shape and location of oceans and continents seems fixed. But that's only because our lives are so short.
Mathematicians studied 100 billion tweets to help computer algorithms better understand our colloquial digital communication.
- A group of mathematicians from the University of Vermont used Twitter to examine how young people intentionally stretch out words in text for digital communication.
- Analyzing the language in roughly 100 billion tweets generated over eight years, the team developed two measurements to assess patterns in the tweets: balance and stretch.
- The words people stretch are not arbitrary but rather have patterned distributions such as what part of the word is stretched or how much it stretches out.