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We Finally Know How Uranus Got Its Moons

Uranus is primarily known for being the butt of everyone’s jokes. But the truth is, Uranus is pretty dark and mysterious — and apparently, pretty violent, too. At least it was in its youth.

A new study finds that a collision with large, foreign object did more than just tip a young Uranus on its side, causing it to spin 98 degrees off its orbital plane with the sun. Though the number of smash-ups between Uranus and various objects is widely debated, this new research is predicated on the idea that a single, Earth-sized object walloped the Ice Giant — and that the debris helped form 18 of the planet’s 27 known moons. The researchers presented their findings on December 13 at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union in New Orleans.

The team tested their idea with computer simulations, which found that the material left over from this collision could indeed form objects with similar orbits and masses to Uranus’s moons.

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“Material from the two bodies is ejected in a debris disk, and finally satellites are formed from the debris disk,” one of the researchers, Yuya Ishizawa, told Space.com. “It is possible to explain the axial tilt and the formation of the regular satellites of Uranus simultaneously.”

Placid Uranus, taken by Hubble

The one thing that seems strange to the researchers is that their earlier simulations predicted several moons orbiting Uranus much closer than they do today. These moons eventually decayed over time and disappeared from Uranus’s orbit. According to Space.com, the team will take a closer look at what happened to these unusual moons.

While there’s so much we don’t understand about Uranus, one thing’s for sure — it’s a truly mesmerizing place, brimming with beauty and wonder.

'The Body': The one book every medical biology student should own

In 'The Body: A Guide for Occupants', Bill Bryson meanders around our organs, seeking out the strange and unexpected.

By Abigail Zuger
on
Filed Under Biology, Books, Diseases & Medicine

Bill Bryson is an excellent companion for a trip — it can be a physical journey or an intellectual one, doesn’t really matter which. He’s an award-winning author whose writing has led him up the Appalachian Trail, around the United States, and Britain, and through the history of science and language, a writer whose breadth of interest and felicitous style make both fact and anecdote go down easy.

WARNING: “Miracle Mineral Solution” is not safe for human consumption

This so-called miracle tonic, marketed as a ‘treatment’ for myriad health conditions, has the FDA worried.

Billed as a treatment for myriad health problems, Miracle Mineral Solution is no miracle. In August of 2019, the United States Food and Drug Administration issued a stark warning to consumers: stop drinking it NOW.

The tonic, or MMS as it is commonly known, is composed of between 22.4 - 28 percent sodium chloride, which is used as a cleaning agent and to purify water. It is ‘activated’ using hydrochloric acid — which produces chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide is bleach. The user then drinks, bathes in, or gives themselves an enema with said bleach.

I quit flying for a year. Here's what I learned during my year off.

Air travel only accounts for about three percent of warming, so why all the fuss?

By Shaun Hendy
on
Filed Under 2050, Environment, Flight & Travel

How much does our use of air travel contribute to the problem of climate change? And is it more damaging that it is being created higher in our atmosphere?

The flight shaming movement has raised our awareness of air travel’s contribution to climate change. With all the discussion, you might be surprised to learn that air travel globally only accounts for about 3% of the warming human activities are causing. Why all the fuss?

Turning back time: Humans can reverse their biological age

People can roll back the clock with three commercially available drugs.

Age is just a number. But what if you could reduce that number? You actually can, scientists discovered in September this year — if you pay attention to your biological, rather than chronological, age.

During a small, year-long clinical trial, people who took a cocktail of three commercially available drugs managed to turn back the clock on their biology. Participants were given a growth hormone and two diabetes medications. The combination reduced their biological age by 2 1/2 years on average.

Prevailing theories about planet formation are contradicted by new data

"Nature is fundamentally trying to tell us something that we haven’t considered in our planetary models."

In 2014, scientists found one of the key components of life out in the cosmos — an exoplanet with water vapor in its atmosphere. We now know that this was no anomaly. Most exoplanets likely have water vapor in their atmospheres, but just how much water is difficult to detect.

Now, a team of scientists has discovered that while most exoplanets do indeed have water vapor in their atmospheres, the amount is far less than expected. The data instead reveal trends that upend established theories of how planetary systems form — including our own Solar System.