Thursday, June 9, 2011

star stuff

On June 7th there was an eruption on the sun, which resulted in this amazing video from NASA. I have to admit, I have a bit of an obsession about solar explosions. When I was in elementary school, my dad lent me a science book to help me come up with an idea for a science fair project. It was one of those "10,000 Science Facts" kind of things, and one of them stated that the sun would explode in 2 billion years, killing our solar system and everything that lived within it. It totally traumatized me for life. At the time I had no concept of how long 2 billion years would be (no matter how much my parents tried to console me by telling me I'd be long dead by then... um, not helping guys!!) so I've spent my life under the shadow of this impending doom. I love Earth a lot and it pains me to think that one of these days the sun is going to explode and ruin it.

I hadn't been thinking much about my obsession lately, until I happened upon a documentary about .. wait for it .. the sun exploding, on The Science Channel last month. This time it wasn't just three sentences in a trivia book, it was graphic enactments, predictions about how everything on earth would slowly meet its demise, proof that it was already beginning and gloom, gloom, gloom. It's no surprise that I had a nightmare about it a couple nights later. In my dream I came up with an idea to save the day, but it was too late and the sun had already expanded so much that it was about to envelop the Earth.

There's a really good explanation of the whole end-of-the-sun-and-life-as-we-know-it situation here, and I highly recommend reading it. My theory is that we figure out a way to inject more hydrogen into the sun so that it never runs out, but I'm sure that's probably impossible. On the documentary I saw on TSC they talked about colonizing other planets (I don't like this idea, since unless we come up with teleportation by then we'd probably have to leave a bunch of people & animals back on Earth) or actually moving Earth itself to another solar system with a functioning sun! I know it's a long way off (the real effects shouldn't even begin to appear for another million or so years, I think) but I'd feel so much better if I knew there was a team of super smart scientists working on a solution to just stop the sun from dying. No moving Earth or transporting our entire population to Neptune... just keeping our solar system intact, and keeping the sun alive and well :)