Let's stop doing, shall we? Because we do not fool anyone. Uranus is funny. It was funny when you were twelve, and it's funny now. It was certainly funny when I was a boy and went to a space-themed summer camp where all the bunks were named after planets and Uranus happened to be where we stowed the sports gear, which means that from time to time a counselor said, "Someone He put these bats in Uranus, "and then he had to go over and take them there himself, because we were too busy laughing and falling over each other, and it was absolutely funny in 1986, when the spaceship Voyager 2 flew past the planet and headlines across the country said, "Rehearsal approaches Uranus."
And now it's funny again, with the news that Uranus smells terrible, it could not be Mars, no, it could not be Venus, it had to be Uranus
The finding comes from a study in Nature Astronomy which shows that the tops of the clouds of Uranus mainly consist of hydrogen sulfide, the gas that mainly f responsible r the foul smell of rotten eggs is Uranus and, yes, human flatulence.
The internet has done what the internet always does in these situations, to resist the obvious jokes and focus soberly on science. Joke! "Someone ignites a match," wrote the Huffington Post. "Uranus Stinks," offered the Washington Mail . And @twitmericks may have contributed Twitter's best contribution to the discussion:
But while the science behind the discovery is not as fun as laughter, it's definitely more important. The solar system has four so-called gas giant planets: Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But only Jupiter and Saturn were closely studied thanks to the Cassini probe, which orbited Saturn for 1
Jupiter and Saturn's cloud tops are known for their near-analysis, consisting mainly of ammonia ice. But that does not mean that Uranus and Neptune are just as good. Different worlds at different distances from the sun would have condensed differently in the formation of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago. To find out what uranium chemistry is, a team headed by planetary physicist Patrick Irwin from Oxford University turned to the Gemini Observatory, a pair of infrared telescopes at Mauna Kea Mountain, Hawaii, co-hosted by the US, Canada, and Canada Brazil, Argentina and Chile. The researchers had hoped to analyze the spectral lines – essentially the chemical fingerprints – of the gases in the Uranus atmosphere.
Infrared and near-infrared observatories have been in operation for a long time, but the 1.7 billion miles distance to Uranus has made it almost impossible to use the systems to get a clear sense of the planet's chemistry. To solve the puzzle, Irwin and his colleagues observed the sunlight as it streamed through a back-lit Uranus, folding together a wealth of other variables, including atmospheric temperature, pressure, humidity, saturated gases, and more. Eventually, the hydrogen sulfide itself was revealed.
The study provides new insights into planet formation in our own solar system and hints at the chemistry of planets orbiting other stars. The researchers themselves, however, are not immune to the attractiveness of the study for non-scientists.
"If an unhappy man ever descended through the clouds of Uranus," Irwin said in a statement accompanying the publication of the study, "they would have met with very unpleasant and olfactory conditions."
That is, in Scientist's language, a pretty damn good flatulent joke. Of course, the rest of us are not that limited; so feel free, you know, let fly.