Saturday, 20 April 2019


11 Uses for Your Old Smartphone
By Evan Dashevsky and Jason Cohen,
PCMag, 14 April 2019.

We each carry around with us a little supercomputer that can fit inside our pocket. It does everything we could ask it to do; it checks the weather, searches the internet, plays games, streams media, takes pictures, and analyzes data. Smartphones are great, except for the fact that newer, better versions are always on the horizon.

Most of us can probably eke out a few years with our smartphones, but the upgrade cycle means it's always tempting to splurge on a shinier model. You can usually save a few bucks by trading your old phone in when you buy a new one, but there are times you might end up with an extra, aging smartphone hanging around.

Instead of letting that phone collect dust, reuse it. If it connects to Wi-Fi, it can still be a handy addition to the household. Here are a few cool things you can do with your old smartphone.

1. Kids' Camera

Turn that old smartphone into a camera for the kids. Pixl Toys sells the Pixlplay Camera, which houses a phone inside a protective case that resembles a classic camera. Together with the companion app, your child can take and edit photos right on the device. You don't need a wireless network for the camera to work and any images can be transmitted via Wi-Fi or a wired connection.

Pixl says the device fits most standard-size smartphones including the iPhone 4/5/6/7/8/X and many Android phones as large as the Galaxy S8, but won't work with iPhone Plus or XL size phones. Of course, you could just hand your kid the phone and let them snap pics without the Pixlplay, but you might want a add a case or screen protector first.

2. Gaming System

There are a ton of different mobile games for iPhone and Android, and many of them don't require an internet connection. If you have an extra smartphone lying around, why not make it a dedicated gaming system? Blow off some steam while you're lounging on the couch, or fire up a game once the kids are done taking photos.

3. Video Chat Device

If you find yourself communicating a lot via Skype, FaceTime, or any other video chat platform, your old smartphone can serve as a dedicated interface for video chats, as long as you have decent Wi-Fi coverage. The kids no longer have to borrow your phone to call grandma or their friends, and your smartphone remains open for incoming calls and other alerts.

4. Alarm Clock

Smart devices like the Echo Spot and the Lenovo Smart Clock can help you manage the time, but not everyone wants a microphone in their bedroom. Instead, turn that old smartphone's big display into an alarm clock that (hopefully) won't spy on you. Just download an alarm clock app via Wi-Fi, place your phone on a stand, and you're good to go. If you tend to hit snooze in the morning, it's easy to grab the phone off its stand and keep it with you as you catch some more sleep.

5. VR Headset

You could spend hundreds on a tethered VR headset for some serious virtual reality gaming. But if you have a Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, Note 8, S8, S8+, S7, S7 edge, Note 5, S6 edge+, S6, S6 edge, A8 Star, A8, or A8+, nab a smartphone-powered Samsung Gear VR for less than $100. Download the Oculus app on your old phone, insert it into the Gear VR, and get ready for some virtual fun.

For other phones, check out the low-tech Google Cardboard, which is available for phones from 4 to 7 inches.

6. TV Remote

Most media streaming devices come with their own remote control. But those remotes tend to be a little small. Whether you own an Apple TV, Fire TV Stick, or Roku, chances are you will (or already have) lost its remote. Instead of buying a new one, though, you can use your phone. Each service has its own mobile app; download it on your old device, link your account, and use your phone as a remote.

7. E-Book Reader

If you love books and comics, but don't want to purchase an eReader, use your phone. Download the Amazon Kindle app on iOS or Android, and sync up your purchases, Prime Reading, or even free e-books. On iOS, you'll have to purchase e-books on the Amazon website first (since Amazon doesn't want to give Apple a 30 percent cut of in-app book purchases), but when you log into the iOS app and refresh, your books will be there. Or read via Apple Books. Comics fans, meanwhile, can tap into Comixology; here are some of our favorite digital comic books.

8. Listen to Audiobooks

If you have an Audible account, meanwhile, download the app and listen to your favorite books. Carry your old device around the house with you, or connect it to a Bluetooth speaker for surround-sound literature.

9. Music Player

If you subscribe to a music-streaming service, you have access to just about any song ever made. Set up your old device up on a charging stand, and pop in some wireless earbuds or connect your phone to a Bluetooth speaker. Then crank up some tunes or tune into a podcast while cleaning the house, getting some work done, or just vegging out.

10. Contribute Your Phone to Science

As long your old smartphone still turns on, it's probably just about as powerful and capable as your late-90s desktop. So, why not "donate" some of those unused resources to a good cause? Currently just for Android, you can download the BOINC app (Google Play), which was developed by the University of Berkeley to harnesses your device's unused computing power for crowdsourced science.

You can help SETI@Home search for alien signals, use computational power for health and sustainability research with IBM's World Community Grid, assist Asteroids@home in trying to avoid the planet getting hit by an asteroid, and other such projects. Choose which project you want to help, hook it up to your local Wi-Fi, and help our species progress into the future!

11. Emergency 911 Phone

US law requires that all phones be able to call 911, even without a SIM card or connected data plan. That means no matter how old your phone is, as long as it has power, it will be able to connect with emergency services. Even in conditions where there would normally be limited service, the call should be able to go through.

While you will probably have have your phone on you at all times, it can't hurt to have a backup device just in case. For instance, you could keep an inactive phone in the car in case there's an emergency. You can also give the decommissioned device to an older relative who might not have a mobile device, but could use an easy way to contact emergency services just in case.

Top image credit: RitaE/Pixabay.

[Source: PCMag. Some images added.]

Friday, 19 April 2019


10 Apocalypses That Didn’t Happen This Century
By Lesley Connor,
Listverse, 17 April 2019.

Mankind has always made predictions about the future, and quite a few people throughout history have claimed to know what lies ahead. Even during the 20th century, sci-fi writers made some surprisingly accurate predictions about the computerized 21st-century space age.

Then there are the doomsday prophets who, over the centuries, have repeatedly predicted the end of the world. Given the hundreds of end dates provided, we fortunately seem to have a pretty good success rate for surviving apocalypse theories. Some predictions were based upon close analysis of biblical references. Others involved planetary movements and collisions with comets. Many were just plain weird, to the point of even changing the date when the anticipated apocalypse failed to arrive.

Today’s Internet age has provided a means of delivering these theories to a vast audience within a short time frame. With websites dedicated to imaginary planets, fake news sites, and social media shares, these messages of imminent doom can quickly go viral. It’s surprising how many people have actually believed the world was going to end tomorrow. Again.

10. Y2K (2000)

As the calendars clicked over to the year 2000, a combination of uncertainty about the dawning of a new era and widespread scaremongering saw millions of people hoarding supplies and bunkering down for the end of the world as we know it.

Some believed that computer coding issues meant that programs would be unable to recognize the year 2000, crashing systems and causing worldwide chaos. Many feared that on the stroke of January 1, 2000, computers would recognize the new date as 1900.

Millions of dollars were spent worldwide preparing for “Y2K” or the “Millennium Bug,” which was supposed to affect everything from banking and retail to emergency services and airplane safety systems. Even the skeptics were hoarding extra groceries, water, and flashlights “just in case” essential services actually did fail.

On the stroke of midnight, the predicted global meltdown failed to eventuate, and the world as we know it continued to go on.

9. Nibiru Collision (2003)

The fictional planet “Nibiru” (also referred to as “Planet X”) first failed to collide with Earth on May 27, 2003. Nibiru is said to be a planet which sits on the outskirts of our solar system. Some followers claim that the planet’s orbit is controlled by a giant UFO.

Nancy Lieder claimed in 1995 that a brain implant enabled her to communicate with aliens in the Zeta Reticuli system. She believed it was her chosen mission to warn the world of the impending end to humanity.

NASA scientists have repeatedly refuted the existence of the planet, suggesting that at most, it’s a small, inconsequential comet, if it’s anything at all. This has sparked claims of a cover-up from believers in Nibiru.

A number of dates have been proposed for the apocalypse since 2003. When the planet fails to arrive, the date is shifted to a new estimated time of arrival. It would seem that Lieber’s extraterrestrial communications may be a little unreliable.

8. Live On The Internet (2008)

Ohio-based pastor Ronald Weinland took to the Internet to warn everyone that the world would end on September 30, 2008. The minister of the “Preparing for the Kingdom of God” church also released a book in 2006, stating that he and his wife had been appointed as witnesses to the end of the world.

Citing biblical references and a complex series of events which would occur in the lead-up to Armageddon in a series of sermons streamed live on the Internet, Weinland urged his followers to prepare for the end in 2008.

Unfortunately, there had been an error in Weinland’s calculations, so the apocalypse didn’t appear as expected. Under his new calculations, it was due on May 7, 2012. After that, it was May 19, 2013. Weinland was found guilty of tax evasion in 2012.

7. Catastrophic Earthquake (2011)

Evangelical broadcaster Harold Camping advised the world that it was due to end on May 21, 2011. His radio ministry invested in an extensive advertising campaign to warn the world of impending doom. Billboards, motor vehicles, and radio advertising spread the word that the end of the world was nigh.

According to Mr. Camping’s revelations, true believers would ascend into Heaven on that date, while the rest of the world would suffer a catastrophic earthquake. A number of followers divested themselves of their worldly goods in preparation, only to be sadly disappointed when the day passed without the forecast doom.

A review of the scripture revealed to Mr. Camping that he had failed to factor in God’s mercy, which would extend the date of impending doom until October that year. Mr. Camping’s previous predictions of a 1994 apocalypse had also failed to come to pass.

6. Comet Elenin (2011)

Throughout history, the appearance of comets has always been seen as a harbinger of doom. So when Russian astronomer Leonard Elenin first spotted Comet Elenin late in 2010, the doomsday theorists hit the Internet. The armchair astronomers predicted everything from earthquakes and tidal waves to a full-on collision with Earth between August and October 2011.

This was despite the fact that the comet was some 647 million kilometers (402 million mi) from Earth when it was first spotted. Mainstream news all but ignored the existence of the comet, as there wasn’t really very much to report, according to the facts provided by space scientists.

NASA astronomers assured the world that the comet posed no threat to life as we know it. In fact, the object broke into small pieces during its journey through the inner solar system in 2011.

5. A Transformation Of Sixes (2012)

Photo credit: Orlando Sierra

Followers of the Miami-based sect “Growing in Grace” proclaimed the end of the world would occur on June 30, 2012. According to their leader, Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda, on that date, his followers were to be transformed into magical beings that would fly and walk through walls. The cult leader claimed he was a reincarnation of Jesus, a fact which was revealed to him through talking to the prophets.

According to the cult, on June 30, 2012, the Earth’s rotation would accelerate to a speed of 107,289 kilometers per hour (66,666 mph). Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda turned 66 in 2012. All cult members were tattooed with the numbers “666.” These inexplicable coincidences all pointed to the inevitable end of the world as we know it on the predicted date.

Advertising billboards were erected to proclaim the date on which his followers would be taking over the world. As usual, July 1, 2012, arrived without incident.

4. Maya Doomsday (2012)

According to some scholars, the ancient Maya calendar indicated that the end of the world was coming shortly before Christmas 2012. Misinterpretations of the ancient calendar suggested that it ended on December 21, 2012, signaling the end of time.

So popular was the “2012 Phenomenon” that many were pointing to natural disasters and world events at the time as indications that the prophecy was unfolding. Once again, the Internet was flooded with theories of galactic collisions that would mark the end of the world on that date.

Yet again, NASA scientists were quick to debunk the doomsday theories, seeking experts to explain the complexities of the Maya calendar. The Maya perception of time was infinite, and therefore their calendar could not be said to pinpoint a specific date in time or be read in the context of our modern calendars. Nor were there any other indications in Maya culture of a cataclysm on that date or of any potentially Earth-shattering comets or planets currently on NASA’s radar.

NASA was so confident that the Earth was safe that they issued their press release a day early. As was the case with the previous predictions, the world continued to turn on December 22, 2012.

3. Rasputin’s Apocalypse (2013)

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Grigori Rasputin was a holy man most famous for his connections with the ill-fated Russian Royal family. Dubbed the “mad monk,” Rasputin’s “mystical powers” were claimed to have cured the Russian prince of the blood disease hemophilia. In letters to the Russian royal family during the revolution, he made a number of accurate “predictions,” such as his death at the hands of government officials and the subsequent murder of the Russian royal family.

These, however, may have been more of an astute understanding of the political turmoil of the time than any mystical revelation. Among the predictions in his final letters was the suggestion that the “second coming” would occur on August 23, 2013, and that the Earth would be consumed by fire - yet another apocalypse that failed to materialize.

2. Blood Moon Prophecy (2014)

In 2014, we once again managed to escape the “Blood Moon Prophecy.” In fact, this was the 62nd time in 2,000 years that we have escaped a lunar-induced apocalypse, specifically the end that’s supposed to come after a series of four lunar eclipses, referred to as a tetrad. Biblical scholars have long cited references from Acts and Revelation where “the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood” as a biblical verification that the lunar eclipse signifies the imminent end of the world.

Christian pastor Mark Bilz predicted that a series of eclipses in 2014 would mark the beginning of the apocalypse, while John Hagee, author of Four Blood Moons, also suggested that the string of blood moons would mark the end of the world. Both these predictions attracted wide attention, with some people actually hoarding supplies in preparation for the impending apocalypse. However, like every lunar eclipse before them, nothing happened other than the Moon being temporarily shadowed.

1. Nibiru (Again) (2015)

In 2015, Nibiru was once again threatening life on Earth, with claims that its collision course with our planet would end on September 23 that year. According to conspiracy theorist David Meade, NASA was hiding information on the planet from the general public.

Biblical verses indicated that the apocalypse would definitely arrive shortly. When Nibiru appeared to miss its connecting flight in September 2015, the estimated time of arrival was revised to October 15 that year. Nibiru’s latest no-show was on April 23, 2018.

NASA once again continued to reassure worried stargazers that Nibiru was nothing more than an Internet hoax. Given the number of times the mythical planet has failed to show up this decade, you tend to believe them.

Top image credit: geralt/Pixabay.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]


The 6 Best Cars and Concepts From the New York Auto Show
By Andrew Moseman,
Popular Mechanics, 17 April 2019.

The New York International Auto Show is the strange bookend to car show season, a hodgepodge of forgettable crossover releases and niche go-fast models for enthusiasts. But it has its charms, including these 6 vehicles you should know from the 2019 show floor.

1. Genesis Mint Concept

Credit: Andrew Moseman

Let us take a moment to praise one of the greatest - nay, the greatest - auto show tradition, and that is bizarre concept cars that automakers have no intention of making.

And the best of New York 2019 might be the Mint Concept by Genesis (the Hyundai car became its own brand a few years ago). This bright green design exercise has everything you could want: electric power, weird sunken door button, a charging port curiously located on the back of the car, gullwing back doors, and a sci-fi daydream interior.

Genesis won't actually build this car, but it's smart to imagine a design direction for city dwellers who want a vehicle that barely resembles today's anonymous crossovers.

2. Volkswagen I.D. Buggy

Credit: Andrew Moseman

We said the Genesis Mint Concept "might" be the best weird concept car of the show, and that's because it's got strong competition from the VW I.D. Buggy. Volkswagen made a chipper, open-top electric vehicle inspired by the dune buggies of the 1960s. The electric motor makes 201 hp and the top speed is limited to 99 mph.

If the I.D. Buggy's name and aesthetic feel familiar, it's because Volkwsagen's concept show car of 2017 was the I.D. Buzz, a similarly shocking green ride that was an electric take on the classic VW bus.

3. 2020 Subaru Outback

Credit: Andrew Moseman

Disappointingly, the Subaru Outback and Forester have long since shed their quirky looks of the 1990s in favor or ordinary crossover guises. But to my eye, at least, the 2020 Outback revealed in New York looks a bit more like the squat O.G. wagon that inspired a million camping trips - and that's a good thing.

Also welcome: A tech upgrade. The Outback gets the turbo engine its lacked for a decade. That powerplant goes in the Outback XT, which has 260 hp and a 3,500-lb. towing capacity, which base models get 182 horses from a 2.5-liter flat four.

Not for nothing, Subaru also wins the award for best show floor display, unveiling the Outback in a mock national park and releasing fake snow when Denali appeared on screen. You've got to know your customers, and Subie knows its customers are taking the dog hiking this weekend.

4. 2020 Kia Stinger GTS

Credit: Andrew Moseman

This model amounts to a pretty small tweak to a car that already existed. But it's a strange one, and the car comes in a special shade of flaming orange, so I'll bite.

The Stinger GTS's superpower is a drift-focused mode called D-AWD that allows to the drive to select how much of the torque goes to the real wheels: 60 percent (Comfort mode), 80 percent (Sport mode), or 100 percent (Drift mode, for the truly insane. As Car and Driver notes, the ordinary Kia Stinger is a perfectly good drift car, so this vehicle has not real reason to exist. But let's reward the weird and the muscular while we have the chance.

5. 2020 Hyundai Sonata

Credit: Andrew Moseman

"Let's talk about cars. I said cars. Remember them?" So said Sangyup Lee of Hyundai design during the introduction of the 2020 Hyundai Sonata, and the line scored a laugh among the car pros here who've seen the industry careen toward caring almost exclusively about crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. Yes, Hyundai announced a youth-focused small ride called the Venue to join its crowded family of crossovers, but it also came to New York to proclaim the power of the passenger car, of which five million sold in the U.S. last year.

The new Sonata's looks may polarize car buyers, but it's certainly nice to come to a car show and see an actual new car.

6. Porsche Speedster

Credit: Andrew Moseman

It's red. It's fast. It costs $275,000 and they're only making 2,000 of them. But it sure is nice to look at.

Top image credit: New York International Auto Show/Facebook.

[Source: Popular Mechanics. Top image and some links added.]

Wednesday, 17 April 2019


10 Most Terrifying Places in the Known Universe
By Eric Malikyte,
Toptenz, 15 April 2019.

Like Great Cthulhu, who lies dead and dreaming in the sunken city of R’lyeh, or the blind idiot god–Azathoth, in HP Lovecraft’s stories and other cosmic horror stories, the universe is home to planets and celestial objects that defy our expectations and exhibit truly horrific environments - where humankind was surely never meant to voyage.

Here are 10 of the most terrifying hellscapes in the known universe.

10. Trappist-1

Imagine that you stand on the surface of an alien world, where the sky burns dark and crimson, oceans of magma stretch from horizon to horizon and volcanoes constantly resurface the planet. A red globe of light rises slowly above the horizon, but unlike Earth’s star, it barely provides any light at all. Five other worlds appear as moons, forever drifting in the dark, threatening one another in their eternal celestial dance. Brilliant auroras fill the sky, burning and caressing the atmosphere, irradiating the surface and anything that dares to draw breath.

The Trappist-1 system may be the best hope for finding an Earth-like planet yet, with each of its seven planets being very Earth-like. Scientists think that many, if not all, have some sort of atmosphere and feature liquid water.

But - there’s always a but, isn’t there? - it may also be terribly inhospitable.

So far, evidence suggests that these worlds orbit their parent star peacefully. But, if our system is any indication, orbits are rarely static. Earth itself has at times exhibited a more elliptical orbit (which has been used as a possible explanation for our many ice ages).

A bigger threat to emerging life and habitability in the Trappist-1 system, however, may be a process called magnetic induction, causing many of the innermost worlds (even those in the habitable zone) to have oceans of flowing magma (like Io, which orbits Jupiter).

There is also the fact that super-cool dwarf stars like Trappist-1 are extremely active. They flare more than our star does, and this could prove to be particularly dangerous for the planets that orbit at such close proximity.

Trappist-1 is also a very dim star. Super cool dwarfs don’t emit much visible light, so processes like photosynthesis may be impossible. So, we can probably rule out rich vegetation.

9. Wasp-12b Exoplanet

A black shape transits across the surface of a star not unlike our own. It glows with an eerie iron red halo as its parent star devours it, the tidal forces squishing it and inflating the atmosphere until it’s nearly the size of Jupiter.

Welcome to WASP-12b. Deep in the Auriga constellation. Where the tidal forces of its dwarf star parent are so great, they stretch the planet into the shape of a football, and diamond is as abundant as limestone is on Earth. Despite how close the planet is to its star, it emits almost no light, making it one of the darkest exoplanets ever discovered.

But it won’t be around for long, because its host star is devouring it.

8. PSO J318.5-22

In the depths of interstellar space, a lone rogue burns on through the darkness. From within its raging dust clouds, there is no star in the ever-night sky. But, even with no star to warm its skies, somehow, its temperatures rage on into the 800s, and it rains rocky debris and pure iron.

PSO J318.5-22 is a rogue planet, a lonely, wandering Jovian class world with no star to call its home. It exists some 80 light years away in the constellation Capricornus. The planet is thought to be six times larger than Jupiter, and, surprisingly warm for a free-floating object.

The object is part of a group of stars which formed almost 12 million years ago. That’s relatively recent in cosmic terms. Scientists aren’t quite sure how objects like these end up floating all by their lonesome in the depths of interstellar space.

7. Mira: A Real Shooting Star

Imagine that you wake up in the middle of the night. There’s an odd glow visible from your bedroom window. You go outside and stare up at the night sky. You see a new, bright object in the night sky. At first, you think it’s a comet. But, soon realize that it’s not. It’s a star, shedding its material much like a comet.There’s just one problem, your world is in its way.

You’ve heard of so-called “shooting stars,” which you’ve probably also learned are nothing more than meteoroids burning up in our atmosphere. But what if we told you there were real shooting stars out in the blackness of space?

With a tail of cosmic gas and debris that stretches 13 light years, Mira is quite special. It’s actually part of a binary system, and its partner (Mira-B) feeds off of its stellar partner. A bow shock forms in front of the star, as it swallows up cosmic dust and gas and anything unlucky enough to get in its way.

So, what’s so terrifying about this? Imagine if our world were in its way.

6. Wandering Black Holes (Black Holes)

You’re looking through a telescope, focusing on Jupiter. You notice something warping the stars around the planet’s bright surface. Then, you see a large trail of gas and dust stretching from Jupiter to a dark spot, hurtling through space toward you.

The earth rumbles, and you realize that it’s all over for humanity.

Wandering black holes are terrifyingly common in our Milky Way Galaxy. Scientists have found two possible Jupiter-sized black holes in gas clouds using ALMA, a set of 66 telescopes spread throughout the Atacama Desert in Chile. And it’s thought there are close to 100,000,000 black holes in our galaxy alone.

But what would happen if such a black hole came close to us? Well, unfortunately, if a wandering black hole got anywhere near our star system, the results would be disastrous, throwing the orbits of every planet, even our Sun, into utter chaos. The most terrifying part? We wouldn’t see it coming until Jupiter and the other gas giants ended up getting their atmospheres gobbled up by the black hole’s immense gravity, creating an accretion disk.

5. Supermassive Electric Current

From the bright core of a spiral galaxy shoots a massive jet of glowing material. Getting any closer than 150,000 light years would mean certain death due to immense radiation and the strongest electric field in the universe.

Equalling about a trillion bolts of lightning, the cosmic jet resulting from the supermassive black hole at the core of galaxy 3C303 is the strongest electric current ever detected in the known universe. Scientists aren’t sure why the electric field is so powerful but theorize that it has something to do with the jets created by the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s center.

Considering that the Milky Way is only estimated to be about 100,000 light years in diameter, that’s quite impressive, if not terrifying.

4. “Hand of God”

From the depths of space, the apparition of a ghostly hand reaching up to grab the corpse of a star that went supernova. It flashes with dangerous x rays, filling the pulsar cloud that makes up the hand every seven seconds.

Created by a pulsar wind nebula, the hand formation that the pulsar creates is a mystery scientists are still trying to solve. If our Earth were too close to a pulsar like this, and in the direct path of its gamma ray and X-ray jet, all life on Earth (except extremophiles in caves and near volcanic oceanic vents) would likely go extinct.

Pulsars like the one creating the Hand of God nebula are actually rapidly rotating neutron stars, which emit pulses of intense radio waves and electromagnetic radiation. It has been suggested that objects like these, which emit gamma ray radiation, if pointed directly at the Earth, could cause a mass extinction event.

3. The Boomerang Nebula

From within the hourglass nebula, you freeze almost instantly, drifting through space on a collision course with a dying star.

A proto-planetary nebula created by a dying red giant star 5,000 light years from Earth. It’s the coldest object in the known universe. The boomerang nebula’s average temperature is a minus 458 degrees Fahrenheit (or 1-degree Kelvin). For reference, the coldest place on Earth (located in Antarctica) registers minus 133.6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The team of astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) - located in the Atacama desert in northern Chile - suggest that the extremely low temperatures may be caused by the collision of a small companion star, plunging into the dying red giant’s surface. The rapid expansion of gas caused by the collision is likely what’s causing the extreme decrease in temperature.

2. RXJ1347

Assuming you had a ship that could get you to this galaxy cluster, it would likely melt within seconds of entering the hottest place in the known universe.

A gas cloud surrounding a galaxy cluster in the constellation Virgo is the hottest place in the known universe. It’s thought that this massive celestial heat storm was produced by two galaxy clusters colliding, creating one of the most violent phenomena in the universe. Contained within a 450,000 light year wide area, the cloud shines like a spot light. What’s more terrifying is that the cluster is swimming with X-rays.

Now imagine if Earth was contained in that cluster. How long do you think our planet would last?

1. Boötes Void (The Great Nothing)

Imagine that you’re falling through space. You try to orient yourself, but every which way you turn, all you see is darkness. Up is down, is right, is left. No matter where you look, there are no stars, no planets, nothing but pitch-black nothingness to inform your senses. Imagine now, that this is all you’ve ever know, from the dawn of your existence.

A true abyss from which nightmares are spawned.

Boötes Void is the largest void in the known universe. It’s nearly 330 million light-years in diameter, and its existence is somewhat baffling. Most of the universe appears to be sponge like, expanding uniformly, but the presence of such a void, where thousands of galaxies could (or should) easily fit, raises many questions about the origins of the universe.

Answers, such as TYPE 4 or 5 alien civilizations, capable of harnessing the light and energy of their galaxies, to dark energy or other phenomena, have been proposed as potential explanations for Boötes Void. Some even think that it may be the very epicenter of the Big Bang, and others think that its very existence refutes the big bang as a whole.

The fact stands, that Boötes Void is the largest thing ever discovered within the known universe. If the Earth were to be placed at its center, we wouldn’t have known that there were even other galaxies until the 1960s.

Top image: Boötes Void. Credit: SEA/YouTube.

[Source: Toptenz. Top image added.]