CLOSE
Original image

The Moons of Saturn: Taking Cues From a Wounded Icon

Original image

As of today, Saturn has fifty-six moons. And at the rate new ones are shyly popping up, one might say that the planet is, um, bringing sexy back. Why so many moons, Saturn? Perhaps the planet is overcompensating for all the hating going on around the weary campfires of astrologers. The current planetary weather features an opposition between Saturn and the Sun, and since the Sun is always the home team, everybody's groaning in anticipation of the next dour event we can blame on the old ball of gas.

But maybe Saturn has something to teach us besides how to assume the position. And anything magnetizing enough to boast so many satellites must know something about relationships.

Let's consider this tangle of moons and try to superimpose some "straight-up" cosmology; we'll list the eight major kinds of satellites and their human counterparts. Maybe it'll make you feel better about all that celestial detritus you've got lurking in your own gravitational field...

 

SATURN'S MAJOR PLAYERS:

RING SHEPHERDS: These moons circuit within or just outside the rings. Their chaotic orbits help sharpen and differentiate the rings.

mean hipsterHUMAN COUNTERPART:  These are all exes--typically with non-profit jobs who quit all the habits that made them attractive & now believe they live a "reformed" life; will plot run-ins to lay down rehearsed line inquiring whether you ever optioned that adaptation of Billy Budd.

CO-ORBITALS: Moons obsessed with each other, and with orbits close enough that there'd be a collision if one attempted to pass the other.

annoying coupleHUMAN COUNTERPART: These are couples you keep around a) to reinforce how content you are single or b) to reinforce how abjectly undesirable you feel or c) out of naked curiosity as to whether and whence they'll combust

INNER LARGE MOONS: They orbit inside the tenuous and transparent E Ring (icy, dusty, difficult)

girlsHUMAN COUNTERPART: Yes, these people mire in your tragedies and encourage you to do the same so they'll feel needed.

TROJAN MOONS: They orbit at exactly the same distance from Saturn as other moons and occupy the Lagrangian points, but far enough away from other moons that they never collide

heart boyHUMAN COUNTERPART: Overwhelming, commercial, and boring; these people come into your life at different times but for the same reason: to remind you to hold out.

OUTER LARGE MOONS: Huge moons orbiting beyond the E Ring

msg in botHUMAN COUNTERPART: People you only meet once but end up permanently lodged in your psyche.

THE IRREGULAR SATELLITES GROUP: These dears rock distant, retrograde, and usually inclined orbits; many have been swiped from other heliocentric orbits; in human form, they're manifested as career masochists you shared a few drinks with at the Kuiper Belt and somehow now they're yours.

THE INUIT IRREGULARS: Homogeneous, light-red in hue

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These people are helpful career-wise but ultimately frustrating, often addicted to taurine and Retin-A.

THE NORSE IRREGULARS: A jolly clan of 18 outer moons

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These ones are more maternal and into genealogy; they'll invite you to witness past-life regressions in their backyards.

THE GALLIC IRREGULARS: Substrata of the Inuits

HUMAN COUNTERPART: These harmless ones are less zealous than the rest of the irregular clan, and you'll often end up dating them out of guilt for how poorly you treated the Inuits

alien

Original image
iStock
arrow
science
The Brain Chemistry Behind Your Caffeine Boost
Original image
iStock

Whether it’s consumed as coffee, candy, or toothpaste, caffeine is the world’s most popular drug. If you’ve ever wondered how a shot of espresso can make your groggy head feel alert and ready for the day, TED-Ed has the answer.

Caffeine works by hijacking receptors in the brain. The stimulant is nearly the same size and shape as adenosine, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that slows down neural activity. Adenosine builds up as the day goes on, making us feel more tired as the day progresses. When caffeine enters your system, it falls into the receptors meant to catch adenosine, thus keeping you from feeling as sleepy as you would otherwise. The blocked adenosine receptors also leave room for the mood-boosting compound dopamine to settle into its receptors. Those increased dopamine levels lead to the boost in energy and mood you feel after finishing your morning coffee.

For a closer look at how this process works, check out the video below.

[h/t TED-Ed]

Original image
iStock
arrow
Live Smarter
5 Tips for Becoming A Morning Person
Original image
iStock

You’ve probably heard the term circadian rhythm. Your circadian rhythm is an internal clock that influences your daily routine: when to eat, when to sleep, and when to wake up. Our biological clocks are, to some extent, controlled by genetics. This means that some people are natural morning people while others are night owls by design. However, researchers say the majority of us fall somewhere in the middle, which is good news if you want to train yourself to wake up earlier.

In addition to squeezing more hours out of the day, there are plenty of other good reasons to resist hitting the snooze button, including increased productivity. One survey found that more than half of Americans say they feel at their best between 5 a.m. and noon. These findings support research from biologist Christopher Randler, who determined that earlier risers are happier and more proactive about goals, too.

If you love the idea of waking up early to get more done, but you just can't seem to will yourself from out under the covers, here are five effective tips that might help you roll out of bed earlier.

1. EASE INTO THE HABIT.

If you’re a die-hard night owl, chances are you’re not going to switch to a morning lark overnight. Old habits are hard to break, but they’re less challenging if you approach them realistically.

“Wake up early in increments,” Kelsey Torgerson, a licensed clinical social worker at Compassionate Counseling in St. Louis suggests. “If you normally wake up at 9:00 a.m., set the alarm to 8:30 a.m. for a week, then 8:00 a.m., then 7:30 a.m.”

Waking up three hours earlier can feel like a complete lifestyle change, but taking it 30 minutes at a time will make it a lot easier to actually stick to the plan. Gradually, you’ll become a true morning person, just don’t try to force it to happen overnight.

2. EXERCISE IN THE MORNING.

Your body releases endorphins when you exercise, so jumping on the treadmill or taking a run around the block is a great way to start the day on a high note. Also, according to the National Sleep Foundation, exercising early in the morning can mean you get a better overall sleep at night:

“In fact, people who work out on a treadmill at 7:00 a.m. sleep longer, experience deeper sleep cycles, and spend 75 percent more time in the most reparative stages of slumber than those who exercise at later times that day.”

If you don’t have much time in the morning, an afternoon workout is your second best bet. The Sleep Foundation says aerobic afternoon workouts can help you fall asleep faster and wake up less often throughout the night. “This may be because exercise raises your body’s temperature for about four to five hours,” they report. After that, your body’s core temperature decreases, which encourages it to switch into sleep mode.

3. MAKE YOUR BEDROOM IDEAL FOR SLEEP.

Whether it’s a noisy street or a bright streetlight, your bedroom environment might be making it difficult for you to sleep throughout the night, which can make waking up early challenging, as you haven’t had enough rest. There are, however, a few changes you can make to optimize your room for a good night’s sleep.

“Keep your bedroom neat and tidy,” Dr. Nancy Irwin, a Los Angeles-based doctor of psychology on staff as an expert in sleep hygiene at Seasons Recovery Centers in Malibu, suggests. “Waking up to clutter and chaos only makes it more tempting to crawl back in bed.”

Depending on what needs to be improved, you might consider investing in some slumber-friendly items that can help you sleep through the night, including foam earplugs (make sure to use a vibrating alarm), black-out drapes, light-blocking window decals, and a cooling pillow

Another simple option? Ditch the obnoxious sound of a loud, buzzing alarm.

“One great way to adapt to rising earlier is to have an alarm that is a pleasing sound to you versus an annoying one,” Dr. Irwin says. “There are many choices now, whether on your smartphone or in a radio or a freestanding apparatus.”

4. TAKE THE TIME TO PROPERLY WIND DOWN.

Getting up early starts the night before, and there are a few things you should do before hitting the sack at night.

“Set an alarm to fall asleep,” Torgerson says. “Having a set bedtime helps you stay responsible to yourself, instead of letting yourself get caught up in a book or Netflix and avoid going to sleep.”

Torgerson adds that practicing yoga or meditation before bed can help relax your mind and body, too. This way, your mind isn’t bouncing from thought to thought in a flurry before you go to bed. If you find yourself feeling anxious before bed, it might help to write in a journal. This way, you can get these nagging thoughts out of your head and onto paper.

Focus on relaxing at night and stay away from not just exercise, but mentally stimulating activities, too. If watching the news gets your blood boiling, for example, you probably want to turn it off an hour or so before bedtime.

5. GET YOUR DAILY DOSE OF LIGHT.

Light has a immense effect on your circadian rhythm—whether it’s the blue light from your phone as you scroll through Instagram, or the bright sunlight of being outdoors on your lunch break. In a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, scientists compared the sleep quality of 27 subjects who worked in windowless environments with 22 subjects who were exposed to significantly more natural light during the day.

“Workers in windowless environments reported poorer scores than their counterparts on two SF-36 dimensions—role limitation due to physical problems and vitality—as well as poorer overall sleep quality," the study concluded. "Compared to the group without windows, workers with windows at the workplace had more light exposure during the workweek, a trend toward more physical activity, and longer sleep duration as measured by actigraphy.”

Thus, exposing yourself to bright light during the day may actually help you sleep better at night, which will go a long way toward helping you wake up refreshed in the morning.

Conversely, too much blue light can actually disturb your sleep schedule at night. This means you probably want to limit your screen time as your bedtime looms closer.

Finally, once you do get into the habit of waking up earlier, stick to that schedule on the weekends as much as possible. The urge to sleep in is strong, but as Torgerson says, “you won't want your body and brain to reacclimate to sleeping in and snoozing.”

SECTIONS

More from mental floss studios