Big news for fans of the vast reaches of the galaxy and those who appreciate a good poop joke, two groups that probably contain the exact same people, honestly: Actual science research has proven that Uranus is a huge ball of gas that reeks of flatulence. And people say writing humor can be hard.
This all comes from the world of flatulence-based astrophysics, which is a field not often mentioned by Neil deGrasse Tyson and also very likely my son’s future major: Uranus actually smells like farts. We’ll pause to let that sentence sit there while appreciate the beautiful crystalline structure of the year’s best science-related actual news joke. It may actually be a perfect joke? It’s a perfect diamond of a joke, it’s the Beyonce’s Coachella performance of a joke, it’s the Kate Middleton’s appearance seven hours after producing an infant of a joke. How lucky we are to be alive right now.
Uranus jokes, as you already know if you are or have ever been 9, are the most reliable source of humor capital in the actual physical galaxy. In case it’s been a while since you were in a fourth-grade science class, allow me to demonstrate. Please read these out loud in your next meeting or church service:
• Uranus is a gas giant!
• You usually need a telescope to see Uranus!
• But sometimes, Uranus is visible to the naked eye!
• Did you know Uranus is sideways?
• Did you know Uranus is blue?
• Uranus is a pretty cold place!
• I hope nothing crashes into Uranus!
And that required 35 seconds of JUST SITTING HERE. Imagine if I had access to a real adolescent’s comic mind. Sadly, they’re all in school or something.
Why does Uranus smell like farts, and how do scientists know this, and how can you smell something in the cold dark vacuum of space, and which government funding has gone to this research exactly? Researchers found this week that the upper atmosphere of Uranus is full of hydrogen sulfide, the malodorous gas that you might recognize from rotten eggs and/or your aging father. According to the Washington Post, the still-technically-functioning EPA reports that humans can detect the foul stench if it’s present in as few of three of every billion air molecules — three in a billion. If you’re in a cloud of it, you are going to want to die, is what the EPA is saying.
“If an unfortunate human were ever to descend through Uranus’s clouds, they would be met with very unpleasant and odoriferous conditions,” said study leader Patrick Irwin a physicist at the University of Oxford, and guy who just invented the Most British Way to Say This.
Interestingly, for any actual scientists who might still be reading this for some reason, the presence of all this hydrogen sulfide means that the other gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, likely formed in a different manner that Uranus and Neptunes, which are both ice planets. And all of them would have been born well apart from Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. So yes, the space-fart news will have significant impact on our knowledge of our place in the cosmos, once we’re all done giggling about it on Twitter.
So while the sense of adventure and drive for human exploration will and should continue to compel us to send sports cars, Chuck Berry records and Martian-bound humans into the far reaches of space, it’s a pretty safe bet that such expeditions will not visit Uranus. I know I don’t want to go to Uranus. I don’t want to stand on Uranus. I’m not especially interested in planting the American flag on Uranus. But scientists are drafting a proposal for a new Uranus-bound spacecraft, in the hopes of learning more about the planet’s origin and, by extension, the early days of the solar system. It’ll be an unmanned spacecraft, happily. Because no human could survive the long and treacherous trip to Uranus.