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A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

A black hole had been "feasting" on its region's "cosmic cuisine" (NASA's words, not mine). This is what that insatiable black hole looks like.


Yes, that's just a black box. Because black holes are invisible, remember? (OK, I'll cut it out.)

This particular black hole — which is no longer dining on space matter and is instead resting comfortably in a food coma — is seriously enormous ... even by huge things in space standards.

This supermassive black hole in galaxy NGC 4889 is one of the largest NASA has ever discovered.

NASA originally spotted the black hole — which is a whopping 21 billion times the mass of our sun— in 2011.

The Hubble Space Telescope, however, just released an image of NGC 4889 hanging out roughly 300 million light-years away — the brightest dot in the center of the pic below. And even though you can't see the actual black hole within in (remember: invisible), the image is bringing a renewed interest in the galaxy's gargantuan gravitational center.

Photo by NASA & ESA.

To put this black hole's mass into perspective, the black hole at the center of the Milky Way (the galaxy we're spinning around in this very moment) has a mass about 4 million times our sun's. That's right — NGC 4889's black hole has a mass more than 5,000 times greater than our galaxy's black hole.

How do we know for sure how big it is if we can't see it? A very smart person who knows a lot about space noted on Hubble's website that astronomers can estimate the mass of black holes by measuring the velocity of stars moving around a galaxy's center — sort of like how you can't see the wind, but you can tell how hard it's blowing by seeing its effects on Donald Trump's hair.

Learning about this huge black hole made me realize two things: 1. I am terrified of black holes, and 2. I know very little about them.

So I decided to do some digging. And let me tell you — black holes are fascinating. Here are three facts that blew me away (or sucked me in?).

1. The tiniest black holes can be about the size of an atom ... but can have the mass of a f***ing mountain.

Black holes are like people — they come in all sizes.

An artist illustration of a quasar, or feeding black hole, eating up the space matter surrounding it. Image by NASA/ESAvia Getty Images.

There are three different kinds of black holes, mass-wise: primordial, stellar, and supermassive. The latter is the largest, with masses greater than 1 million of our suns. Evidence suggests they're at the center of every large galaxy.

Stellars (the Average Joes of black holes, if you will) are everywhere, relatively speaking — there could even be dozens floating around our very own Milky Way. These form after very big stars collapse, and they have masses up to 20 times greater than our sun.

Primordial black holes — the little guys of the group that formed in the early universe — can be as small as an atom but have the mass of a mountain. (Because science.)

2. Black holes are terrifying, but no — we shouldn't fear getting sucked into one.

Despite how bewilderingly scary the thought of one can be — their very definition hinges on the fact their gravity is so strong that not even light can escape — there are no black holes large enough to threaten Earth's existence anywhere nearby.

And as NASA points out, "black holes do not wander around the universe, randomly swallowing worlds." (Thank God.)

Bright flares are seen near Sagittarius A* — the black hole in the center of our own Milky Way galaxy — in 2003. Photo by NASA/CXC/MIT/F.K.Baganoff/Getty Images.

We should maybe focus on more reasonable threats facing our very existence as a species, like, say, climate change? (Just a thought.)

3. Black holes can collide. And we just learned that we can hear it happening — even a billion light-years away.

It turns out, Alert Einstein was right this whole time.

Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

Just this month, scientists from across the globe published a report that helps prove the last leg of Einstein's theory of relatively, which had to do with gravitational waves — "the ripples in the fabric of space-time," as The New York Times defined them (try wrapping your head around that).

Back in September 2015, scientists at the LIGO Scientific Collaboration detected a "chirp" using their antennas in Washington state and Louisiana. That chirp was the stretching and compressing of space — gravitational waves hitting Earth's surface.

So what do these waves have to do with black holes? Well, black holes created them.

Two stellar black holes had merged about a billion light-years away. This sent gravitational waves throughout the universe, distorting space-time as they rippled through. So, yes — two black holes that fused in one-fifth of an Earth second a billion years ago led to what could be "one of the major breakthroughs" in modern physics on Earth in 2016.


Do you feel like a black hole expert now?

OK, so maybe not an expert, but at least a little smarter when it comes to space stuff?

Black holes can be super-small and supermassive. They're completely horrifying by default but actually pose no real threat. And, as of just this month, they helped back up the most questionable aspect of Einstein's theory of relatively.

Bottom line: Black holes are a lot of things, starting with insanely cool.

Photo courtesy of Girls at Work

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via Lewis Speaks Sr. / Facebook

This article originally appeared on 02.25.21


Middle school has to be the most insecure time in a person's life. Kids in their early teens are incredibly cruel and will make fun of each other for not having the right shoes, listening to the right music, or having the right hairstyle.

As if the social pressure wasn't enough, a child that age has to deal with the intensely awkward psychological and biological changes of puberty at the same time.

Jason Smith, the principal of Stonybrook Intermediate and Middle School in Warren Township, Indiana, had a young student sent to his office recently, and his ability to understand his feelings made all the difference.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

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Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

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Pop Culture

'90s kids share movies that will 'take you back to a better time'

It was a magical time when animals played sports and yet somehow things were just simpler.

YouTube/Upworthy photo illustration

Honey, I shrunk the kid named Matilda while jamming in space!

Everyone knows that '90s movies just hit different. From sports movies to rom-coms to even horror, there was an undeniable innocence, without being overly simplistic or juvenile. They didn’t have nearly the amount of money going into production as they do today, but somehow managed to transport us to magical places.

Movies of the '90s are so iconic that there have been several attempts to reboot beloved titles. Which, let’s face it, tends to be a fool's errand at a cash grab. These movies are so timeless that simply viewing the original is more than fine.

Not sure which movie to start with? You’re in luck—a Reddit user by the name of YouBrokeMyTV asked ’90s kids to share movies that took them “back to a better time,” and because the internet can be a wonderful place, tons of people responded with some beloved classics.

These answers certainly don’t make a definitive list (there are just so, so many gems) but they're a fun glimpse into what made '90s cinema so special. A nostalgic romp through memory lane, if you will.

Enjoy these 14 titles that just might leave you jonesing for a rewatch:

1. "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids"

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A perfect example of how '90s movies were silly, but smart at the same time. And oh so wholesome.

2. "The Sandlot"

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It taught us nothing about baseball, but everything about friendship, rooting for the underdog and (most important) how to make s’mores.

3. "Drop Dead Fred"

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Critics might have run this cult classic through the mud during its inception, but audiences fell in love with the bizarre charm of this story about a mischievous little girl and her anarchist imaginary friend. So take that, snotfaces!

4. "The Goonies"

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Everyone just wanted to set off an epic quest with their friends for pirate treasure after seeing this movie.

5. Tim Burton's "Batman"

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Before the superhero genre was the behemoth it is today, a quirky director and the dude who was best known for playing the creepy demon in "Beetlejuice" breathed new life into comic-book movies. Marvel might be the leader on creating stories with adult themes that are digestible for kids nowadays, but this DC film was the first of its kind. Plus, that soundtrack … forget about it.

6. "Hook"

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Pretty much any '90s film starring Robin Williams was an absolute gem, but this one in particular is timeless. His gift of balancing childlike humor with emotional gravitas lent itself so well to playing the now grown and cynical Peter Pan, who must learn to reclaim his joy (relatable, millennials?). It was a bang-a-rang-er, no question.

7. "Space Jam"

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It had Looney Tunes, it had aliens and it had Michael Jordan. That’s a winning combination.

8. "Matilda"

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I don’t think I’m out of line when I say that this movie helped a lot of kids make their way through difficult childhoods.

9. "The Parent Trap"

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Even '90s reboots were awesome. And how fun it is to see that Lisa Ann Walker—the actress who played Chessy the housekeeper—is not only yet again gracing the screens in NBC’s “Abbott Elementary,” but is also being revered as a style icon on TikTok for her ultra casual looks in the film. We all knew she was onto something with long button downs and shorts.

10. "The Land Before Time"

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No cartoon, not even “The Lion King,” was a better depiction of childhood grief. And yet, despite encapsulating tragedy, director Don Bluth still left viewers hopeful. The subsequent 14 (yes 14) sequels definitely pale in comparison to the original, but "The Land Before Time" continues to stand the test of time nonetheless.

11. "Richie Rich"

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The scene where they play tag on four-wheelers is simply iconic.

12. "Dunston Checks In"

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Man, the '90s were the golden age of animal-centered films. And not just monkeys either—we got sports playing golden retrievers and not one, but two movies starring talking pigs. What a time to be alive. These films were made before CGI had reached the levels it’s at today, and the authentic interactions between humans and creatures reached right through the screen.

13. "George of the Jungle"
george of the jungle, brendan faser

Watch out for the tree!!!

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Have I seen this movie at least 20 times? Probably. It doesn’t get any better than this in terms of silly action films with bird puppets. It’s crazy to think that this role would eventually lead Brendan Fraser to "The Mummy" franchise, turning him into a household name. Though his career has had some tragic ups and downs, we are all grateful for the glorious comeback he’s been having.

14. Anything involving Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen
mary kate and ashley

Yes, they were professional detectives.

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Whether vacationing in London, Paris or Rome, whether playing magical witches or making a huge billboard so their father could find love … Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen offered zany, whimsical entertainment while wearing fun outfits. Sometimes, that’s all you need.