I was doing my usual exploring of all things cosmic and stumbled upon a PBS joint presentation of NOVA and National Geographic. Now you have to understand that I have a BA in Poli Sci from Georgetown. I haven’t had much science even though a lot of people think I am rather full of BS. But I digress.
The program was about the sun and its potential danger in the form of solar storms. The incredibly interesting part was the analysis of the makeup of the sun. It is 93 million miles away. It is the size of 1,000,000 earths. It is not really a solid or gas because the heat of it is somewhere around 27 million degrees. It is made up of four distinct parts or areas. How do they figure this stuff out?
It is basically in a form of constant nuclear fusion. Hydrogen to helium. It translates 4 million tons of mass into energy that is the equivalent of 10 million H bombs every second. And we are worried about Iran?
It takes a ray of sunlight about 8 minutes to get to our little blue marble. But it takes the original unit of power millions of years to get to the surface of the sun to be radiated. In other words the sunlight we see today started on its journey to maturity way back in the Ice Age.
Now some of you probably knew this but TTG is dumbfounded. It was almost comical as the solar physicists plotted the solar eruptions or storms. Kind of like a red hot tornado. It seems that if we had the perfect storm it could wipe out all of our electricity on earth Huh? A mini version actually hit Quebec back in 1989. And here we thought they were just whacky on their own.
The point being is that these scientists are watching the solar weather every day. They actually issue forecasts. But the thought comes to this poor little mind, “What the hell do they think they are going to do about it?” Maybe we can develop a missile to thwart it? I don’t think so. I think I would rather not know it was coming.
The thing that kept ruminating in my mind was twofold. First is that this galaxy we live in is really a balancing act. The fact that the sun is this rather amorphous blob is really a miracle. It explodes and goes nuts but somehow still keeps on generating energy just like clockwork while maintaining its cute orblike figure.
By sheer happenstance we are lucky enough to have just the right set of circumstances that create life. Certain gasses, water, soil, protoplasm and add the right amount of sunlight and voila we have fish, fauna, flora and man. The fact this all works is dare I say a miracle.
The second piece is that homo sapiens is smart enough to devise ways to study all this. But rather than living in awe, we are of course convinced that we can do better. We are now in a mad race to find the God particle. When we find that then we will know the origins of life. We will be able to replicate this in a lab and boy won’t we be smart.
Well let’s not go that far. But let’s cure all disease. Body parts? No problem. We’ll learn how to grow them. Death? We can put it off for at least a few dozen years. Pollutants? That global warming stuff is just a bunch of crap.
It seems to me we should recognize that everything we have is a gift. The sun hurts us but only because we don’t respect its power. The earth feeds us but we think of that as a right not a privilege. Resources. Fresh air. Water. We want to chew them up insatiably to fuel progress and growth.
After watching this show I realized that we are just pieces in the puzzle. The sun has existed for 4 billion years and will last long after any of our useful lives. The planets will orbit long into the future. We tend to think of ourselves masters of the universe. Let’s just consider ourselves lucky. God forbid we are just mere mortals. Oh yeah, I forgot about that GOD part. Is He still around?
Ted The Great.
Gasoline is actually a product of the sun or lack thereof. When the sun was blocked, huge numbers of living creatures died and there decomposition created what are now our fossil fuels.
The sun destroys or mutates skin cells to create skin cancers. Looking directly at the sun can blind you. Solar power is our most abundant but still untapped source of energy. The good and the bad.
The sun doesn’t rise or set even though some of us may have a different view relative to our own importance. We are just a satellite orbiting the sun. It makes up 98% of the mass of our solar system.
If you weigh 100 lbs on earth you would weigh 2707 lbs on the sun. Aaargh!
Sun spots are the result of varying degrees of temperature. They can become the size of the state of Texas.