Part 3: In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…

Fact: There is a planet that orbits two suns rather than one.  NASA discovered something that should bring all Star Wars fans a little hope: Kepler-16b, a planet in a solar system centred around two suns, rather than one. Who decided that was a better name than Tatooine? The two stars at the centre of…

Part 2: Diamonds Are Forever

Fact: It can rain diamonds. But don’t get overexcited, its not anywhere close; this phenomenon is only known to occur on planets such as Neptune and Uranus, known as ‘gas giants’. Such planets have high concentrations of methane in their atmosphere, and massive lightning storms ignite the methane to produce burnt carbon, or soot, the raw building…

Part 1: A Song of Ice and Fire

Fact: Ice can be set on fire. On the distant exoplanet Gliese 436b, a paradox covers the surface – ice, lit on fire. The planet’s surface is made largely of water, and since the atmospheric temperature is toasty 300 degrees you might expect it to be boiling. And yet, the high atmospheric pressure compresses the water…

Part 2: High Off Life

Fact: Human saliva contains a painkiller more powerful than heroin. Turns out you don’t need a snake bite to get high: human saliva contains a compound – called opiorphin – which were found to be 6 times more potent at blocking pain than morphine. This compound is not itself an opiod, but chemically inhibits a number of enzymes…

Part 1: What’s Your Poison?

Fact: Snake venom can be used as a painkiller. A bite from a black mamba can kill a human being in 20 minutes, but surprisingly it can also get you high. Newly discovered proteins called mambaglins, which are present in the venom of black mambas, are extremely potent painkillers – in fact, they have been found to…