11 Potential Benefits of Exploring Deep Space


The cosmos is endlessly fascinating because of the mysteries it contains, but with exploration, we’re getting ever closer to shedding some light on the dark corners of space (or should we say, dark matters). Missions in the coming years hope to unlock secrets of extraterrestrial life, the early days of the solar system, and what might be in store for our precious home planet.

1. Valuable Geology Lessons

As much as we rely on space to thrill us with its inherent otherness, many of the benefits of exploring realms outside of Earth have to do with discovering what makes us similar to our cosmic brethren. Mars and Earth have some common characteristics, so if we can get there to explore, it may be a powerful teaching tool on the geological evolution of our own planet.

2. Life Outside of Earth

The possibility of extraterrestrial life has captured the imagination of the human race since the human race was able to imagine. While a fully-formed, highly intelligent, and pacific alien species would be a pretty neat discovery, more realistically, scientists hope to soon find evidence of past life or simply the promise of it. Methane and evidence of an ancient freshwater lake found on Mars mean that alien life might have been on our neighbor planet all along.

3. Life Beyond Earth

We still don’t know whether life beyond Earth’s orbit is feasible, but astronauts are increasingly testing the waters. They’re taking longer missions and taking up residence in space for months at a time, all of which is teaching scientists about how humans can not only survive, but thrive in the environs of deep space.

4. Answers To Lifes Big Questions

Perhaps the biggest question, actually: Scientists are still trying to figure out what the early days of our solar system looked like. Upcoming missions into the outer reaches of the solar system aim to shed some light on the formation of our home and what things were like in the good old days.

5. Personal Relationships with Asteroids (On Our Terms)

In the next few decades, scientists hope to visit a nearby asteroid, harness it, and redirect it into orbit around the moon. Then, astronauts can take samples from these remnants of the early universe to study back on Earth. Additionally, a cataclysmic asteroid impact isn’t just the stuff of movies; it’s a real life possibility (don’t panic though, there’s nothing currently on its way). Future missions into outer space will work toward observing asteroid systems, testing defensive measures, and hopefully, coming away with possible solutions if, someday, a giant piece of space rock starts barreling its way toward Earth.

6. And Comets, Too

Last year, scientists successfully landed a probe on one of these dusty ice balls (67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko). Studying them is forcing scientists to reconsider the origin of liquid water on Earth, and could point to the origins of the organic compounds that served as building blocks for life. It’s possible that all the life on our Pale Blue Dot is thanks to a delivery system in the form of a billions-of-years-old visitor of the early solar system.

7. Discovering the Nature of Dark Matter

So-called dark matter has been the big head-scratcher of the physics world since it was first theorized. The stuff that takes up over a quarter of the universe is invisible to us, but now it seems we might be close to understanding and even creating the stuff. As researchers continue to make observations, map dark matter in the cosmos, and chart its behavior, facts about this hugely important component of our world become less opaque. A better understanding could someday allow scientists to know how and why our universe is composed the way it is.

8. Technology, Technology, Technology

The technology developed for space exploration has and will continue to extend to myriad other things. Image processing moved from the moon to the medical field, and technological advancements in cancer treatment, solar panels, lightweight materials, digital data storage, water purification, and satellite communication systems have all come from space programs and exploration. Not to mention memory foam! Who knows what sort of incredible advancements (and creature comforts) are in store for the future.

9. A Good Economy

Sound financial systems might not be as sexy as dark matter, but they’re a real byproduct of exploration initiatives. The space travel machine is comprised of many different cogs employing many different people, and on top of that, it encourages careers in science and engineering, creates new business, and rewards innovation. There’s also the added bonus of global partnerships among us humans, which seems like a good idea while we’re out seeking extraterrestrials.

10. Private Space Jaunts

The space race in the private sector is at an unparalleled point in history. While government-run deep space exploration is a bit different from say, a leisurely afternoon trip to the stars, the shared technology is helping to push the dream of recreational space flight into reality. We’re still a ways off from field trips to the moon, but as we push to the outer reaches of the solar system, space becomes more accessible at home for everyone.

11. Awesome Robots!

When it comes to hands-on exploration, robots are where it’s at. They’re able to travel far, collect samples, and do valuable reconnaissance work. In the future, they’ll be our partners in cosmic exploration. As robots get better, we’ll get better, and we’ll even be able to apply robot technology here on Earth.

Trips to Mars. A civilian space taxi. A jet that travels at hypersonic speeds. Learn how Boeing is advancing space exploration at Boeing.com.


8 Great Gifts for People Who Work From Home

World Market/Amazon
World Market/Amazon

A growing share of Americans work from home, and while that might seem blissful to some, it's not always easy to live, eat, and work in the same space. So, if you have co-workers and friends who are living the WFH lifestyle, here are some products that will make their life away from their cubicle a little easier.

1. Folding Book Stand; $7

Hatisan / Amazon

Useful for anyone who works with books or documents, this thick wire frame is strong enough for heavier textbooks or tablets. Best of all, it folds down flat, so they can slip it into their backpack or laptop case and take it out at the library or wherever they need it. The stand does double-duty in the kitchen as a cookbook holder, too.

Buy It: Amazon

2. Duraflame Electric Fireplace; $179

Duraflame / Amazon

Nothing says cozy like a fireplace, but not everyone is so blessed—or has the energy to keep a fire going during the work day. This Duraflame electric fireplace can help keep a workspace warm by providing up to 1000 square feet of comfortable heat, and has adjustable brightness and speed settings. They can even operate it without heat if they just crave the ambiance of an old-school gentleman's study (leather-top desk and shelves full of arcane books cost extra).

Buy It: Amazon

3. World Explorer Coffee Sampler; $32


Making sure they've got enough coffee to match their workload is a must, and if they're willing to experiment with their java a bit, the World Explorer’s Coffee Sampler allows them to make up to 32 cups using beans from all over the world. Inside the box are four bags with four different flavor profiles, like balanced, a light-medium roast with fruity notes; bold, a medium-dark roast with notes of cocoa; classic, which has notes of nuts; and fruity, coming in with notes of floral.

Buy it: UncommonGoods

4. Lavender and Lemon Beeswax Candle; $20


People who work at home all day, especially in a smaller space, often struggle to "turn off" at the end of the day. One way to unwind and signal that work is done is to light a candle. Burning beeswax candles helps clean the air, and essential oils are a better health bet than artificial fragrances. Lavender is especially relaxing. (Just use caution around essential-oil-scented products and pets.)

Buy It: Amazon

5. HÄNS Swipe-Clean; $15

HÄNS / Amazon

If they're carting their laptop and phone from the coffee shop to meetings to the co-working space, the gadgets are going to get gross—fast. HÄNS Swipe is a dual-sided device that cleans on one side and polishes on the other, and it's a great solution for keeping germs at bay. It's also nicely portable, since there's nothing to spill. Plus, it's refillable, and the polishing cloth is washable and re-wrappable, making it a much more sustainable solution than individually wrapped wipes.

Buy It: Amazon

6. Laptop Side Table; $100

World Market

Sometimes they don't want to be stuck at a desk all day long. This industrial-chic side table can act as a laptop table, too, with room for a computer, coffee, notes, and more. It also works as a TV table—not that they would ever watch TV during work hours.

Buy It: World Market

7. Moleskine Classic Notebook; $17

Moleskin / Amazon

Plenty of people who work from home (well, plenty of people in general) find paper journals and planners essential, whether they're used for bullet journaling, time-blocking, or just writing good old-fashioned to-do lists. However they organize their lives, there's a journal out there that's perfect, but for starters it's hard to top a good Moleskin. These are available dotted (the bullet journal fave), plain, ruled, or squared, and in a variety of colors. (They can find other supply ideas for bullet journaling here.)

Buy It: Amazon

8. Nexstand Laptop Stand; $39

Nexstand / Amazon

For the person who works from home and is on the taller side, this portable laptop stand is a back-saver. It folds down flat so it can be tossed into the bag and taken to the coffee shop or co-working spot, where it often generates an admiring comment or three. It works best alongside a portable external keyboard and mouse.

Buy It: Amazon

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

15 Facts About A Nightmare on Elm Street

Robert Englund as A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger.
Robert Englund as A Nightmare on Elm Street's Freddy Krueger.
New Line Cinema

Enrich your annual Halloween viewing A Nightmare on Elm Street, Wes Craven’s 1984 horror classic, with these fascinating tidbits.

1. A Nightmare on Elm Street is Johnny Depp’s film debut.

During casting, it came down to Johnny Depp, who was then 21 years old, or another young actor to play Glen. Director Wes Craven asked his teenage daughter which actor he should cast as the heartthrob boyfriend—she chose Depp.

2. A Nightmare on Elm Street was inspired by real-life events.

Craven decided to make A Nightmare on Elm Street after reading a series of Los Angeles Times articles about a group of teenage Khmer immigrants who, after moving to the U.S. from refugee camps, died in their sleep after suffering from disturbing nightmares.

3. Freddy Krueger is an amalgamation of Wes Craven’s childhood terrors.

“Freddy” was the name of a bully who beat Craven up in elementary school, and his signature hat was based on one worn by a neighborhood drunk who scared Craven when he was young.

4. Freddy Krueger’s sweater is scientifically scary.

Craven designed Freddy’s striped sweater after reading in Scientific American that the human eye has difficulty recognizing those particular shades of red and green side by side. Therefore, looking at it is subliminally unsettling.

5. Freddy Krueger’s weapon of choice was inspired by house pets and infomercials.

Craven didn’t want Freddy to wield a simple knife like Michael Myers in Halloween or Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th, so he drew on his fear of his own cat’s claws and a series of late-night commercials selling sets of knives to create Freddy’s iconic knife glove.

6. Wes Craven’s other influences include surrealist filmmaker Luis Buñuel and director Roman Polanski.

He drew on their works, particularly Polanski’s The Tenant and Repulsion, for the dream sequences in the film.

7. A Nightmare on Elm Street was shot in just 32 days.

Principal photography began in June 1984 and wrapped in July.

8. The boiler room in A Nightmare on Elm Street was an actual boiler room—in the basement of a jail.

The scenes where Freddy attacks his victims in a boiler room were shot in an actual boiler room in the basement of the Lincoln Heights Jail in Los Angeles. Soon after shooting ended, the building was condemned because of asbestos.

9. It took A Nightmare on Elm Street's makeup artists three hours each day to apply and take off Robert Englund’s Freddy Krueger makeup.

The makeup consisted of 11 separate pieces applied to Englund’s face and upper chest.

10. Robert Englund based his performance as Freddy Krueger on a horror icon and musical theater star.

Englund was inspired by Klaus Kinski’s performance in the 1979 remake of Nosferatu and the work of actor James Cagney.

11. British actor David Warner was originally supposed to play Freddy Krueger.

He was forced to drop out due to scheduling conflicts.

12. One of A Nightmare on Elm Street's most famous scenes was inspired by Stanley Kubrick.

The famous scene in which a geyser of blood shoots out of Glen’s bed was inspired by a similar scene of blood pouring from an elevator in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. To create this effect, the blood was created from 80 gallons of water mixed with red paint, which was then was poured through a set built upside-down.

13. Nancy was almost killed by breakfast foods in A Nightmare on Elm Street.

The sticky substance that keeps her from running up the stairs away from Freddy was in fact a mixture of oatmeal and pancake batter.

14. The movie that Nancy watches to try to stay awake is Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead.

Craven added the nod to Raimi because Raimi had previously included a poster of Craven’s second film, The Hills Have Eyes, in a scene in The Evil Dead. Raimi eventually returned the favor by hiding Freddy’s knife glove in a scene in a tool shed in Evil Dead II.

15. The sleep doctor who tries to cure Nancy in A Nightmare on Elm Street is played by Charles Fleischer.

Fleischer provided the voice for Roger Rabbit.

This story has been updated for 2020.