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There are Giant Clouds of Alcohol Floating in Space

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ESO/APEX & MSX/IPAC/NASA

Ten thousand light years from earth in a constellation far, far away, there is massive cloud of alcohol. It’s space booze.

Discovered in 1995 near the constellation Aquila, the cloud is 1000 times larger than the diameter of our solar system. It contains enough ethyl alcohol to fill 400 trillion trillion pints of beer. To down that much alcohol, every person on earth would have to drink 300,000 pints each day—for one billion years.

Sadly, for those of you planning an interstellar pub crawl, the cloud is 58 quadrillion miles away. It’s also a cocktail of 32 compounds, some of them as nasty as carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, and ammonia.

The galaxy has a second intergalactic liquor cabinet in the Sagittarius B2 Cloud (the bright, orange-red spot in the image above), which holds 10 billion billion billion liters of cosmic hooch. Most of it’s undrinkable, though. The cloud holds mostly methanol, the same alcohol in antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Similarly, near the center of the Milky Way, a cloudy bridge of methanol surrounds a stellar nursery. The bridge of booze is 288 billion miles wide.

It wasn’t spilled after some Martian keg party.  As new stars heat up—formed as clouds of gas and dust collapse—ethyl alcohol can attach to specks of floating dust. As the dust moves toward the budding star, the alcohol heats, separates, and turns to gas. For astronomers, these alcohol clouds can be a telling clue into how our biggest stars form.

Not to mention, alcohol is an organic compound: the building blocks of life. According to Barry Turner at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, these alcohol clouds may “help us better understand how life might arise elsewhere in the cosmos.”

Now, if you’re wondering what these space spirits may taste or smell like, Sagittarius B2 has an answer. The cloud contains ethyl formate, an ester that helps give raspberries their taste—and reportedly smells like rum. It seems, then, that the center of our galaxy may taste and smell like raspberry-flavored rum.

Scientists haven’t found if it pairs well with moon cheese.

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science
Why a Howling Wind Sounds So Spooky, According to Science
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Halloween is swiftly approaching, meaning you'll likely soon hear creepy soundtracks—replete with screams, clanking chains, and howling winds—blaring from haunted houses and home displays. While the sound of human suffering is frightful for obvious reasons, what is it, exactly, about a brisk fall gust that sends shivers up our spines? In horror movie scenes and ghost stories, these spooky gales are always presented as blowing through dead trees. Do bare branches actually make the natural wailing noises louder, or is this detail added simply for atmospheric purposes?

As the SciShow's Hank Green explains in the video below, wind howls because it curves around obstacles like trees or buildings. When fast-moving air goes around, say, a tree, it splits up as it whips past, before coming back together on the other side. Due to factors such as natural randomness, air speed, and the tree's surface, one side's wind is going to be slightly stronger when the two currents rejoin, pushing the other side's gust out of the way. The two continue to interact back-and-forth in what could be likened to an invisible wrestling match, as high-pressure airwaves and whirlpools mix together and vibrate the air. If the wind is fast enough, this phenomenon will produce the eerie noise we've all come to recognize in horror films.

Leafy trees "will absorb some of the vibrations in the air and dull the sound, but without leaves—like if it's the middle of the winter or the entire forest is dead—the howling will travel a lot farther," Green explains. That's why a dead forest on a windy night sounds so much like the undead.

Learn more by watching SciShow's video below.

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Space
SpaceX's Landing Blooper Reel Shows That Even Rocket Scientists Make Mistakes
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches.
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On March 30, 2017, SpaceX did something no space program had done before: They relaunched an orbital class rocket from Earth that had successfully achieved lift-off just a year earlier. It wasn't the first time Elon Musk's company broke new ground: In December 2015, it nailed the landing on a reusable rocket—the first time that had been done—and five months later landed a rocket on a droneship in the middle of the ocean, which was also unprecedented. These feats marked significant moments in the history of space travel, but they were just a few of the steps in the long, messy journey to achieve them. In SpaceX's new blooper reel, spotted by Ars Technica, you can see just some of the many failures the company has had along the way.

The video demonstrates that failure is an important part of the scientific process. Of course when the science you're working in deals with launching and landing rockets, failure can be a lot more dramatic than it is in a lab. SpaceX has filmed their rockets blowing up in the air, disintegrating in the ocean, and smashing against landing pads, often because of something small like a radar glitch or lack of propellant.

While explosions—or "rapid unscheduled disassemblies," as the video calls them—are never ideal, some are preferable to others. The Falcon 9 explosion that shook buildings for miles last year, for instance, ended up destroying the $200 million Facebook satellite onboard. But even costly hiccups such as that one are important to future successes. As Musk once said, "If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

You can watch the fiery compilation below.

[h/t Ars Technica]

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