Thursday, August 30, 2007

What’s 200 Times Hotter than the Surface of the Sun?

The sun’s corona, of course. Wait. How is that possible? How could the halo around the sun be hotter than the surface? A new report appearing in the journal Science, and covered by Scientific American, ties the mystery to “Alfven” waves.

What’s an Alfven wave? I have no idea. And Scientific American isn’t written for wish-they-were-astronaut, could-have-been-a-scentist-if-I-studied-in-high-school-instead-of playing-Nintendo-all-the-time people like me. No, SciAm is pretty much written for actual astronauts and scientists. So, who knows...

Anyhow, yes, the article is dense, but from what I gather, the behavior of these waves violently rattles plasma (charged, high-energy gas) escaping the surface of the sun, creating more heat. How much more heat? The surface of the sun is about 8,500 degrees Fahrenheit, while the carona is 1.8 million degrees. Utterly shocking, yes?

Whatever these Alfven waves are and however they work, I’m wondering how long it will be before Hollywood rolls them into a plot? How about a giant Alfven wave ray gun hidden on the moon, threatening to melt a hole through Manhattah, Paramount? MGM? DreamWorks? New Line? Anyone?

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I started pound360 to channel my obsession with vitamins, running and the five senses. Eventually, I got bored focusing on all that stuff, so I came back from a one month hiatus in May of 2007 (one year after launching Pound360) and broadened my mumblings here to include all science.