What would happen if you never washed your sheets

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: No one likes making their bed, let alone washing their sheets. Especially single men. In one survey, 55% of single men between 18 and 25 reported changing their sheets only four times a year. And to be clear, those are beds that you would not want to sleep in.

You shed about 15 million skin cells each night, but they don’t just pile up in your sheets. Because something else is already there waiting to gobble them up: dust mites. And the longer you wait between washes, the more food these critters will have and the more they’ll procreate and multiply. So if you don’t wash your sheets, you’ll be sleeping with hundreds of thousands of arachnids.

Now, for the estimated 20 million Americans with dust allergies, it gets worse. Dust mites and their feces produce proteins that cause red and itchy eyes, runny noses, and other cold-like symptoms in people who are allergic. And dust mites, well, they’re actually not the only allergen in a dirty bed. If you never wash your pillow sheets, a community of fungus can also build up there. One study found that a typical pillow has as many as 16 different species of fungus and literally millions of fungal spores. And the most common among them, Aspergillus fumigatus, is potentially dangerous. In addition to allergic reactions, it can infect your lungs and other organs.

And it’s not just fungi joining the party. You see, bacteria also love a good unwashed pillow case or sheet a lot. Another study found that unwashed pillow cases and sheets had up to 39 times more bacteria than pet-food bowls and several thousand times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Like Staphylococcus aureus, which in some rare cases can be deadly.

Now on a slightly less or perhaps more frightening note, dirty sheets can also give you acne. Each night, the oil, lotion, and other cosmetics on your skin transfer to your sheets and build up over time until eventually your bedding is basically a giant used makeup wipe. Then during the following nights, all that gunk transfers back onto your body, clogging your pores, and, voila, you’ve got acne.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to avoid all of these problems: Wash your sheets, and wash them often. Experts recommend about once a week using the hottest water possible. That’ll kill a lot of bacteria and dust mites, get out stains, and remove oils.

Plus, as awful as making your bed might be, there’s simply nothing better than slipping between clean, crisp sheets.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s what would happen if all the ice on Earth melted overnight

  • If all the ice on Earth melted overnight, the planet would be sent into chaos.
  • There would be mass flooding from sea levels rising, severe weather changes, deadly chemical releases, and mass greenhouse gasses that would leak into the atmosphere.
  • Scientists say we need to stop the planet from rising in temperature by just 1° Celsius, or this could happen sooner than we think.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Ninety-nine percent of all freshwater ice on Earth is sitting on top of Greenland and Antarctica, and each year, a little more of it melts into the ocean. Normally, it would take hundreds to thousands of years for it all to melt away. But what if something happened that caused a massive global melt overnight?

As we slept, sea levels would rise by a whopping 66 meters. Coastal cities like New York, Shanghai, and London would drown in the apocalyptic mass flood, forcing up to 40% of the world’s population out of their homes. While all this chaos ensues aboveground, something equally sinister is happening below. All that rising saltwater will infiltrate groundwater reserves farther inland, forcing its way into nearby freshwater aquifers. You know, the ones that supply our drinking water, irrigation systems, and power-plant cooling systems? All those aquifers would be destroyed. Not good.

On top of that, the ice on Greenland and Antarctica is made of freshwater, so when it melts, that’s about 69% of the world’s freshwater supply that’s going straight into the oceans. This will wreak havoc on our ocean currents and weather patterns. Take the Gulf Stream, for example. It’s a strong ocean current that brings warm air to northern Europe and relies on dense, salty water from the Arctic in order to function. But a flood of freshwater would dilute the current and could weaken or even stop it altogether. Without that warm air, temperatures in northern Europe would plummet, and that could spawn a mini ice age, according to some experts.

That’s not even the worst of it. Take a look at what will happen when that last 1% of freshwater ice that’s not part of Greenland or Antarctica thaws. Some of that 1% is sitting in glaciers farther inland. The Himalayan glaciers specifically pose one of the largest threats because of what’s trapped inside: toxic chemicals like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, or DDT. Scientists discovered that glaciers like this can store these chemicals for decades. But as they thaw, those glaciers release the chemicals into rivers, lakes, and groundwater reserves, poisoning each one as they go.

The rest of that 1% is hanging out underground, mostly in the Arctic tundra, as something called permafrost. Permafrost is organic matter that’s been frozen in the ground for two-plus years. Now, one of the most immediate problems with thawing permafrost would be mercury poisoning. That’s right: There are an estimated 15 million gallons of mercury stored up in the Arctic permafrost. That’s almost equal to the amount of mercury everywhere else on Earth. On top of that, the organic matter in permafrost is a tasty meal for microorganisms. After they digest it all, they fart out two of the most potent greenhouse gases out there, carbon dioxide and methane. Scientists estimate this could double the current levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and potentially cause global temperatures to rise by 3.5 degrees Celsius compared to today.

That might not sound like much, but say goodbye to that mini European ice age, and even rivers and lakes around the world. They’d evaporate from the higher temperatures and cause mass droughts and desert-like climates. And all that extra water vapor in the atmosphere would fuel more frequent and stronger storms, floods, and hurricanes. So all of that newly established coastline on the eastern US would be one of the last places you’d want to live. Instead, there would be mass migrations to Canada, Alaska, the Arctic, and even what’s left of the Antarctic.

And you’re right, this is probably never going to happen. After all, there’s enough ice right now to cover the entire continent of North America in a sheet a mile thick. So the next time you hear about record-breaking heat or ultra-powerful hurricanes, at least you know that it could be worse. But scientists estimate that if we don’t take action and global temperatures increase by just 1 degree Celsius, the effects of climate change we already see today will be irreversible. So yes, it could be worse, and it will be if we’re not careful.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in September 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

What’s inside the ‘world’s ugliest animal,’ the blobfish

  • The blobfish was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013 – a title it still defends today.
  • But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome.
  • Between the skin and the muscles is a lot of fluid. And that’s the secret to the fish’s distinct appearance – and its survival.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This creature was crowned the world’s ugliest animal in 2013, a title it still defends today. On land, he’s got a body like Jell-O and a big old frown. But drop this fellow 9,200 feet below sea level, and the water holds up all that flab like a push-up bra, making the fish a little more handsome. Same old fish, but with a little more support. So, what is all that water pressure holding together?

David Stein: Between the skin, that flabby skin, and the muscles is a lot of fluid.

Narrator: This is David Stein, a deep-sea-fish biologist who was lucky enough to dissect 19 blobfishes in the 1970s. Blobfish look blobby because they are full of water. Under their skin, blobfish have a thick layer of gelatinous flesh that floats outside their muscles.

Stein: If you pick up a blobfish by the tail, then it kind of flows to the head.

Narrator: This water-filled, Jell-O-like layer allows the blobfish to stay somewhat buoyant, which is important because blobfishes don’t have a swim bladder.

Stein: And fishes that have swim bladders are able to adjust their buoyancy. They can secrete gas into the swim bladder or remove it. A fish that lives on the bottom doesn’t need to be able to maintain its buoyancy.

Narrator: So, the Jell-O layer isn’t a perfect substitute, but the blobfish doesn’t need to be a strong swimmer. The predator has a highly specialized hunting strategy that’s perfect for the rocky barrens of the deep sea.

Stein: It just sits there and waits for dinner to come by.

Narrator: If all you do is sit, you don’t need much under your skin. Just watery tissue, some yellow pockets of fat, and a smidgen of muscle. In case you hadn’t guessed, blobfishes aren’t exactly yoked. They have very little red muscle, the kind that allows you, a human, to run a mile or a tuna fish to migrate across oceans. Instead, blobfish have a lot of white muscle, which allows them to swim in short bursts and lunge at prey that on occasion ramble by.

This is a baby blobfish. It’s a cleared and stained specimen, meaning all its tissue has been dissolved to show only the bones and cartilage. Those thin red lines you see, they’re the blobfish’s bones dyed red. If you’re having trouble seeing the bones, you’re not the only one. Blobfish have poorly ossified skeletons, meaning they’re thinner and more fragile than the bones of most shallow-water fish. This is another handy deep-sea adaptation, as it takes a lot of precious energy to build strong bones.

But the blobfish saves its energy to develop what might be the most important bone in its body: its jaws, which also happened to be the reason it looks so gloomy. The fish needs enormous jaws so it can snap up any prey that passes by and swallow it whole, maybe even smacking its blubbery lips as it eats. And that brings us to its stomach. If you’re the kind of creature that eats anything that swims by, some surprising things can wind up in your stomach. Stein found a wide range of foods and not-foods in the blobfish he dissected. Fish, sea pens, brittle stars, hermit crabs, an anemone, a plastic bag, and also lots of rocks.

Stein: Their stomach contents kind of bear out the fact that they’re probably not too bright.

Narrator: He also found octopus beaks, the cephalopods’ hard, indigestible jaws. This means that one of the world’s flabbiest fishes has been able to eat one of the sea’s most cunning predators. If you’re surprised, just think about the blobfish’s thick skin. What would it be harder to grab in a fight: a sack of bones or a sack of Jell-O? Stein suspects it might be the latter.

Stein: If the skin is loose, perhaps the suckers can’t really get a good grip on it.

Narrator: Stein found sucker marks across the blobfish’s body, a hint that the fish might’ve been in some deep-sea fights. So while all of this Jell-O might look a little unconventional, well, it seems to have served its purpose. The blobfish is perfectly suited to life in the deep sea, where beauty standards are probably quite different. After all…

Stein: Ugly is kind of in the eye of the beholder.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in December 2020.

Read the original article on Business Insider

This animation shows just how big supermassive black holes can get

  • Black holes are the densest objects in the universe, which gives them a powerful gravitational pull on the space around them.
  • They can be millions of times larger than suns and planets, or as small as a city.
  • Using just gravity, black holes can rip entire planets and stars apart – but how powerful they are depends on how much mass is inside.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: The cosmos can be a dangerous place. Take black holes, for example. They’re some of the most violent objects in our universe, powerful enough to rip entire stars to pieces.

Their secret weapon is gravity. You see, the more mass you can shrink into a small space, the stronger your gravitational force will become. To make Earth into a black hole, for instance, you’d have to shrink it to less than an inch across.

But real black holes are much larger than that and pack way more mass than Earth. Here’s just how big black holes can really get.

There are three common types of black holes. The smallest are stellar black holes, which form after a giant star explodes and collapses in on itself, like this one, which measures about 40 miles across, roughly three times the length of Manhattan. But in that small space is enough mass to equal 11 of our suns.

In another galaxy, called M33, there’s a black hole that is 58 miles across and packs as much mass as 15.7 suns inside.

Up next are the intermediate-mass black holes, like this one. At 1,460 miles across, it’s nearly large enough to stretch from Florida to Maine and, according to some calculations, contains the mass of 400 suns.

At this point, black holes start to get pretty big compared to Earth, but it’s still nothing when you consider the sheer mass they carry. Take this black hole, for example. It’s nearly twice the size of Jupiter, spanning a region about 172,000 miles wide, but inside is as much mass as 47,000 suns.

But these black holes are nothing compared to supermassive black holes, like Sagittarius A*, which lives at the center of our Milky Way galaxy. It covers a region about 14.6 million miles in diameter. That’s roughly 168 Jupiters across, and inside is the same amount of mass as 4 million suns combined. Now that may sound big, but Sagittarius A* is small compared to other supermassive black holes.

Take the one at the center of our neighbor the Andromeda galaxy, which has a diameter of 516 million miles, larger than Jupiter’s orbit, and contains enough mass to equal that of 140 million suns. We’re finally getting to some of the largest black holes in the universe, and yet we haven’t reached one that surpasses the size of our solar system.

So let’s look at the supermassive black hole at the center of the Sombrero galaxy. It measures 2 billion miles across, so it would stretch further than Uranus’ orbit, and it has about the same mass as 660 million suns.

And the supermassive black hole at the center of Messier 87 is so huge that astronomers could see it from 55 million light-years away. It’s 24 billion miles across and contains the same mass as 6 1/2 billion suns. But this supermassive black hole, as large as it is, could still fit within our solar system with plenty of room to spare.

So we have to look at one of the most massive of all supermassive black holes. It has a diameter of about 78 billion miles. For perspective, that’s about 40% the size of our solar system, according to some estimates. And it’s estimated to be about 21 billion times the mass of our sun.

So there you have it, black holes can be millions of times larger than suns and planets or as small as a city. It all depends on how much mass is inside. Turns out, when it comes to the cosmos, size isn’t the only thing that matters.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in May 2019.

Read the original article on Business Insider

‘Rugrats,’ the classic ’90s cartoon franchise, returns in an all-new series on Paramount Plus

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"Rugrats" (2021), an original series on Paramount Plus
A scene from “Rugrats” (2021), an original series on Paramount Plus

  • Rugrats” is back in the form of a brand-new CGI-animated series on Paramount Plus.
  • The original cartoon launched 30 years ago on Nickelodeon.
  • Paramount Plus costs $6/month with ads, or $10/month without commercials.

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A baby’s gotta do what a baby’s gotta do, even when they’re decades old.

The “Rugrats” are back nearly 30 years after their original show premiered on Nickelodeon. This time around, the babies are animated in CGI and available to watch on Paramount Plus.

Rugrats” (2021) follows Tommy, Chuckie, Angelica, Susie, Phil, and Lil as they embark on adventures around the home. The series kicked off May 27 with five episodes. All voice actors from the original series’ last season are back for the new show, including E.G. Daily, Nancy Cartwright, and Cree Summer.

Where to watch ‘Rugrats’ (2021)

The first five episodes of “Rugrats” (2021) premiered on May 27 exclusively through the Paramount Plus streaming service. It’s unclear when the remainder of the first season’s 26 episodes will premiere, but Paramount Plus said they’ll release more episodes on a “later date.”

Rugrats” (2021) will also air on the Nickelodeon cable channel after it streams on Paramount Plus, but there’s no release date yet.

You can subscribe to Paramount Plus for $6 a month with an ad-supported plan ($60 a year) or $10 a month with an ad-free plan ($100 a year). These plans typically include a seven-day trial, but you can get a 30-day trial if you sign up before May 30.

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Aside from “Rugrats,” Paramount Plus offers a number of ViacomCBS titles including other Nickelodeon shows like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “iCarly.” More Paramount Plus original shows and movies are on the way in the coming months. You can read our full Paramount Plus review here.

Where to watch old ‘Rugrats’ cartoons

Before “Rugrats” (2021), the franchise included two TV shows, two direct-to-video specials, one mini-series, and three movies.

All nine seasons of the original “Rugrats” series, five seasons of the spinoff “All Grown Up!,” and two direct-to-video specials are available on Paramount Plus. You can also watch the original “Rugrats” on Hulu, with plans starting at $6 a month.

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Other video-on-demand (VOD) streaming providers, like Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV, and Google Play, will let you buy individual “Rugrats” episodes or seasons. Episodes typically cost $2 each.

The “Rugrats” series made its way to the big screen as well. Films include “The Rugrats Movie,” “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie,” and “Rugrats Go Wild.” The first two films – “The Rugrats Movie” and “Rugrats in Paris: The Movie” – are available on Netflix.

Rugrats Go Wild” – a crossover flick between the “Rugrats” and “The Wild Thornberrys” franchises – is available through VOD streaming providers with rental fees starting at $3. However, it’s currently unavailable on subscription streaming services.

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‘Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K’ stars Patton Oswalt as a comic book villain – all 10 episodes of the animated series are now on Hulu

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It’s tough being a villain, especially for M.O.D.O.K., who struggles to balance world domination and family life in a new Hulu animated series.

“Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” focuses on the Marvel comic book character of the same name. The acronym stands for Mental Mobile Organism Designed Only for Killing. The series stars the vocal talents of Patton Oswalt as the titular character, an “egomaniacal super villain” who attempts to maintain his evil organization and personal relationships, according to Hulu’s synopsis.

Oswalt, along with Jordan Blum, are co-creators of the series which is made in a stop-motion animation style. The animation comes from Stoopid Buddy Studios, the producer of the popular stop-motion series “Robot Chicken.”

“Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” has received positive reviews from critics. The show currently holds an “87% Fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes with 22 critic reviews.

How to watch ‘Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.’

“Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” premiered May 21 exclusively on Hulu. Hulu’s catalog also features a number of other popular animated shows like “Futurama,” “Rick and Morty,” and “Bob’s Burgers.”

You can get Hulu for as low as $6 a month ($60 a year) with ads. Aside from the basic plan, Hulu also has an ad-free plan for $12 a month. All Hulu plans come with a 30-day free trial.

“Marvel’s M.O.D.O.K.” is available to watch on Hulu through a number of streaming devices, including iOS and Android devices, Apple TV, Fire TV, Chromecast, Switch, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, web browsers, and smart TVs.

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Hulu subscribers who want to see more Marvel shows and movies should consider getting the $14 a month Disney Plus bundle.

The bundle includes Hulu Basic, ESPN+, and Disney Plus. Disney’s streaming service is home to the majority of Marvel’s TV and film catalog, including titles such as “WandaVision,” “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” and “Black Panther.”

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Watch 2 supermassive black holes dance around each other in a mesmerizing NASA animation

black hole
A pair of orbiting black holes millions of times the Sun’s mass. The black hole represented in blue has less mass.

At the heart of every galaxy lies a black hole, where gravity is so strong that nothing can escape its boundary. Sometimes when two galaxies merge, their black holes get caught in lock-step, perpetually circling each other in an interstellar tango.

A new animation from NASA reveals what it might look like if you filmed a pair of orbiting supermassive black holes, known as a binary system, in action.

In the visualization, the black holes are marked by different colors. The orange one is 200 million times more massive than the sun. Its blue companion weighs about half that much. Both are surrounded by glowing rings of hot gas and space debris, known as an accretion disk.

When one black hole moves in front of the other, its strong gravity distorts the light from its partner’s accretion disk.

As a result, the black hole in the background looks like it’s warping into pieces that ooze around the other – a bit like a funhouse mirror.

Once the black holes pass by each other, those distorted pieces seem to flow back together.

Black holes look different depending on your vantage point

The black holes appear smaller as they move closer to the viewer and larger as they move farther into the background, according to Jeremy Schnittman, a NASA astrophysicist who created the new animation.

Using a cluster of supercomputers, Schnittman was able to calculate, frame-by-frame, how light from both accretion disks would bend as the two black holes danced around each other. Normally, those calculations would have taken a decade on a modern desktop computer, but Schnittman completed them in roughly one day.

His visualization shows that black hole components change in appearance depending on how you look at them.

When viewed from above or below, each black hole’s accretion disk looks like a near-perfect circle, with a tiny image of its partner reflected near the center.

“Zooming into each black hole reveals multiple, increasingly distorted images of its partner,” Schnittman said in a statement.

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An animation of a black hole as viewed from above or below.

From a side-on view, however, the accretion disk looks like a rainbow of fire slithering around the black hole’s center. That rainbow gets warped when the black holes pass by each other.

From this vantage point, the accretion disk appears brighter on one side than the other. As a black hole spins, the cloud of gas and debris orbiting it also spins. So the disk material moving toward our eyes would seem brighter than the material moving away – a bit like the beacon of a lighthouse.

NASA black hole still image
An animation of a black hole as viewed from the side.

According to Schnittman, a pair of black holes like the ones depicted in the new animation will eventually merge into one gargantuan black hole – but not before dancing around each other for a long time.

“These are the kinds of black hole binary systems where we think both members could maintain accretion disks lasting millions of years,” he said.

Aria Bendix contributed reporting to this story.

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An astronomer’s colorful animation shows how Saturn’s disappearing rings act like a ‘mini solar system’

saturn rings radio
Saturn’s rings, imaged based on radio data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. Green indicates regions with particles smaller than 5 centimeters; purple is where no particles are that small. The white area is so dense that it blocked radio signals.

  • Saturn’s seven icy rings each spin at their own speed, behaving like a “mini solar system.”
  • Planetary scientist James O’Donoghue made a beautifully simple animation to show how it works.
  • But the rings are temporary: Saturn is slowly swallowing them, according to O’Donoghue’s research.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

If star-hopping aliens ever visited our solar system, Saturn is probably the planet they’d remember.

The seven giant rings circling its equator make Saturn the most distinct planet orbiting the sun. It may not be obvious in images of the hula-hoop planet, but the ice and rock chunks that make up those rings are circling Saturn at rates nearly 70 times the speed of sound. What’s more, each ring is moving at its own pace.

“In a way, the ring system is like a mini solar system,” James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at Japan’s space agency, JAXA, told Insider. “Objects close to Saturn orbit faster otherwise they would fall in, while objects far away can afford to go slower. This is the same for planets.”

In his free time, O’Donoghue makes animations about physics and the solar system. Some of his others have demonstrated that there’s no “dark side” of the moon, the true center of the solar system isn’t the sun, and Earth has two types of day.

When he put his skills to work to depict Saturn’s rings, O’Donoghue created an animation (below) that shows how the each ring moves through its own motions in a beautiful, circular dance.

In the animation, the line labeled “synchronous orbit” is synced up with the spin of Saturn itself, so it shows which parts of the rings you would see over time if you stood at that spot on the planet.

Saturn’s slowest, outermost ring spins at about 37,000 mph (16.4 kilometers per second) – slower than the rotation of Saturn itself. The innermost chunks of ice and rock shoot through space at about 52,000 mph (23.2 kilometers per second).

saturn rings illustration
An illustration of Saturn’s rings up close.

Up close, Saturn’s rings aren’t as chaotic as their speeds might make them seem. According to O’Donoghue, grains of ice on neighboring tracks are only moving at a few centimeters per minute relative to each other.

“That speed is like walking one step every 30 minutes, or similar to rush hour traffic,” he said on Twitter. “So collisions aren’t very dramatic.”

Saturn is slowly swallowing its rings

In addition to being incredibly fast-moving, Saturn’s rings are very long and thin. If you unfurled them – as O’Donoghue did in the image below – all the planets would fit comfortably within their length.

saturn rings solar system o'donoghue

But in total, the rings have just 1/5,000th the mass of our moon.

“In other words, our moon could be used to make 5,000 Saturn ring systems,” O’Donoghue told Insider. “This highlights how extremely thin and fragile the rings of Saturn are.”

This fragility is a subject of O’Donoghue’s scientific research. In studying Saturn’s upper atmosphere, he and his colleagues found that the rings are slowly disappearing. Thousands of kilograms of ring material rain onto the planet every second. At that rate, the rings shouldn’t last more than 300 million years in their current “full” form, he said.

“Saturn’s ring system is not exactly stable, appearing to be more like a temporary debris field of some ancient moon or comet which got too close and broke apart, rather than a permanent feature,” O’Donoghue added. “We can count ourselves lucky we live in a time when Saturn’s rings have such an enormous presence in the solar system.”

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An astronomer’s animation shows how Earth and the moon both orbit a spot 3,000 miles from the true center of the planet

The Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) captured a view of the moon as it passed between the spacecraft and Earth.

The moon orbits Earth – right? The answer is actually a little more complicated than that.

The moon is circling a point about 3,000 miles from our planet’s center, just below its surface. Earth is wobbling around that point, too, making its own circles.

That spot is the Earth-moon system’s center of mass, known as the barycenter. It’s the point of an object (or system of them) at which it can be balanced perfectly, with the mass distributed evenly on all sides.

The Earth-moon barycenter doesn’t line up exactly with our planet’s center. Instead, it’s “always just below Earth’s surface,” as James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the Japanese space agency (JAXA), explained on Twitter.

It’s hard to imagine what that looks like without seeing it for yourself. So O’Donoghue made an animation to demonstrate what’s going on. It shows how Earth and the moon will move over the next three years.

The distance between Earth and the moon is not to scale in the animation, but O’Donoghue used NASA data, so the positions over time are accurate.

“You can pause the animation on the present date to figure out where the Earth and moon physically are right now,” O’Donoghue said.

Every planetary system – including the star or planet that appears to be at the center – orbits an invisible point like this one. Our solar system’s barycenter is sometimes inside the sun, sometimes outside of it. Barycenters can help astronomers find hidden planets circling other stars: A star’s wobbling motion allows scientists to calculate mass they can’t see in a given system.

O’Donoghue made a similar animation of Pluto and its moon, Charon. In this system, the barycenter is always outside of Pluto.

That’s because Charon’s mass is not that much smaller than Pluto’s, so the system’s mass is more evenly distributed than Earth and our moon.

Because the barycenter is outside of Pluto, O’Donoghue said, you could actually consider this to be a “double (dwarf-)planet system” rather than a dwarf planet and its moon.

In his free time, O’Donoghue has also made animations to explain why leap years are necessary, why you’ve probably never seen a model of the solar system to scale, and how incredibly slow the speed of light is.

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How anesthesia affects your brain and body

Since 1846, doctors have used a variety of drugs to make patients unconscious for surgery, but even though the medications have changed, there’s one thing that remains the same- it works. But how exactly? We don’t know every detail about what’s going on when we administer anesthesia, but then again, we also don’t know exactly how consciousness works either. Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: When you go to sleep, if I pinched you, you’d be up. If I shook you, you’d be up, right? But under anesthesia, I’m gonna pinch you and do a full operation and you’re not up. So it’s really further on the spectrum of unconsciousness.

Narrator: When you wake up after being put under with general anesthesia you barely feel like any time has passed. You could have been out for an hour or a day and you wouldn’t know the difference.

Fong: When you go to a natural sleep, people call your name, your alarm goes off, you wake up, right? This is not what is gonna happen during general anesthesia. You’re gonna be unconscious.

Narrator: You’re closer to being in a coma than being asleep.

Anesthesia was first used during surgery in 1846. The drug provided at that time was ether. Now anesthesiologists more commonly use a combination of drugs like propofol and fentanyl which interrupt neural pathways so you don’t feel pain and you don’t remember the surgery.

Fong: Three things that you need for general anesthesia are you need amnesia so that they don’t remember, analgesia so they have pain relief and then operating conditions for the surgeon. Some surgeries you need the patient to be very relaxed so you would use a muscle relaxant. Other surgeries the patient just needs to be asleep and anesthetized but they don’t need relaxation so how they do that varies upon the different medications that you’re using. Some will depress excitatory neurons and some will enhance inhibitory neurons.

Narrator: Excitatory neurons, for example, get excited and send signals to other neurons to fire. Depressing them means less signals telling your brain you’re in pain. Inhibitory neurons do the opposite. They make it harder for neurons to generate these electrical signals. In either case this means fewer active neurons overall which is important because when your body is being poked and prodded, neurons would typically fire to tell your brain you’re in pain. If those neurons aren’t firing, your brain doesn’t know that your body is, well, being cut open.

Fong: Basically it interrupts the pathways and the communication between your neural networks. We’re aiming for them to be not in pain by looking at their vital signs, their heart rate, their blood pressure. Then we want to make sure that they’re unconscious.

Narrator: Without anesthesia, many important surgeries wouldn’t be possible because they’d be way too traumatic.

Fong: Surgery didn’t move forward, really, until anesthesia moved forward. You know, you watch those old movies. They give you a swig of alcohol, they put a tourniquet and they hack your leg off. People don’t do well with that, right? If you had a bad heart, that would be the end of that.

Narrator: After the procedure is complete the doctors stop administering the meds and the most powerful effects of the drugs wear off but even though you’re conscious again you might continue to experience some of the drugs side effects.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in August 2018.

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