Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The sun has gone out

That's overly dramatic, but the thing that no one is saying is that it's entirely possible that after burning furiously for the last century the sun may have exhausted the fuel closest to the core, and as a result the rate of fusion has slowed.

So is it doomsday?

Not quite. There's still a lot of fuel there, but the sun is a really large object and it may take some time for more fuel to fall inwards to the center of gravity.

I'm no physicist but I've heard this theory before as sort of a "fringe" thing mumbled in science fiction backwaters. The upshot is that it could get pretty cold, so buy some long johns.

What's wrong with the sun? - space - 14 June 2010 - New Scientist

Sunspots are windows into the sun's magnetic soul. They form where giant loops of magnetism, generated deep inside the sun, well up and burst through the surface, leading to a localised drop in temperature which we see as a dark patch. Any changes in sunspot numbers reflect changes inside the sun. "During this transition, the sun is giving us a real glimpse into its interior," says Hathaway.

When sunspot numbers drop at the end of each 11-year cycle, solar storms die down and all becomes much calmer. This "solar minimum" doesn't last long. Within a year, the spots and storms begin to build towards a new crescendo, the next solar maximum.

What's special about this latest dip is that the sun is having trouble starting the next solar cycle. The sun began to calm down in late 2007, so no one expected many sunspots in 2008. But computer models predicted that when the spots did return, they would do so in force. Hathaway was reported as thinking the next solar cycle would be a "doozy": more sunspots, more solar storms and more energy blasted into space. Others predicted that it would be the most active solar cycle on record. The trouble was, no one told the sun.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Long Hot Summer Begins: Congressman Attacks Student

Two things about this bother me. One, that it's blatant assault. Two, if the student had defended himself he would have gone to jail.

Long Hot Summer Begins: Congressman Attacks Student: "

Maybe it is my Catholic upbringing, but I’ve always been cursed with a bit too much empathy. It is often difficult to witness people bearing the full weight of the consequences of their decisions, even when it is richly deserved. (And, in the case of House Democrats few have ever been more deserving of reaping everything they’ve sown.) We’re human, after all, and witnessing people on the cusp of realizing that they’ve lost everything can be difficult.

Last week, Democrat Congressman Bod Etheridge (D-NC2) attended a fundraiser headlined by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He was asked by some students on the street whether he supported the “Obama Agenda.” He didn’t take it well.

Expect more of this. A hard, progressive left captured the Democrat majority in Congress and forced them to enact a fantasy grab-bag of legislation that is increasingly unpopular with the American public. We’re on the cusp of a deeper recession, millions of unemployed Americans have no prospect for work, taxes are about to spike higher and we’ve maxed out the national credit card. The Democrats were given a chance to run government and they’ve only succeeded in running it into the ground.

So, yeah, Democrats who are up for reelection this November are a bit testy.

Fortunately, Rep. Etheridge isn’t one of those gerry-mandered political welfare queens. According to the Cook Report, his district is an R+2 district. He has a credible opponent. Check her out here.

Let’s recap what we saw on this video. A sitting Congressman–a presumed living extension of James Madison and other founding fathers–was asked on a public street whether he supported the President’s agenda. His response was to hit away a video camera and assault a student. The age of Pericles this ain’t.

It is going to be a long, hot summer. But, you’ve been given a target. Act accordingly.