The Sun as We Would Want to Know It–Maybe?


Credit: Wikipedia and U.S. Department of Interior

 

John Jaksich

The Sun is perhaps the most under-rated object in the sky; fact being, sometimes people think of the Sun as it was at the moment of their first sun-burn. (Kidding aside . . . ) Because so many associate the Sun with the passing of seasons, the Sun gained much respect during humankind’s history. The Anasazi aboriginals at Chaco canyon placed much significance upon the Sun (although a complete narrative is not known)–their markings upon the butte seemed to be for ceremony purposes.

Centuries later, Galileo upset Catholic Church dogma by stating that the Sun was not blemish-less. Currently, the Sun is studied extensively by many countries of the World and for many reasons other than the weather.

What are the facts—that make the Sun so attractive to study as a viable energy source? It has been shining for about 4.5 billion years. This stability makes it attractive to computer model and attempt to reproduce in a controlled manner. Harnessing solar fusion has been a topic of great importance to all—in fact, the concept has been researched for at least the past 60 years. But, with no major success in fusion research, getting a better understanding of the Sun might be the better route.

The Sun’s stability is a result of equilibrium between two competing forces: its own gravity and the outward pressure of the gaseous plasma. However, how are energy scientists attempting to reproduce the Sun for energy purposes? Currently, the differences between the Sun’s processes and fusion energy are like “night and day.” Professional assessments on fusion research conclude that it may take another 100 years before total completion of work. So, why is research continuing? see the following two links about  research on solar fusion: The Promise of Fusion: Energy Miracle or Mirage? by Alex Salkever: Yale Environment 360 and  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/07/opinion/sunday/a-big-laser-runs-into-trouble.html?smid=pl-share

As with a lot of research, “the path may be more important than the final goal.” The major differences between pure research and applied research can be like “night and day.” But, common ground is found when the researchers are able to utilize intermediate results—the space program of the 1960s was successful for many more reasons than the final result. It drove the world economy in many positive directions, as well as; giving more research problems for others to solve. In short, the research continues to perpetuate positive outcomes for the information age. 

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