[ExI] I am now a creationist
ilsa.bartlett at gmail.com
Sat Apr 4 00:09:44 UTC 2009
the solar minimum is a religious event here in berkeley on the north marina
yet it is science! smile, ilsa
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Deep Solar Minimum
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*April 1, 2009:* The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock
market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower.
2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366
days (73%). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way
back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days:
Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had
hit bottom in 2008.
Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March
31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87%).
It adds up to one inescapable conclusion: "We're experiencing a very deep
solar minimum," says solar physicist Dean Pesnell of the Goddard Space
"This is the quietest sun we've seen in almost a century," agrees sunspot
expert David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
[image: see caption]<http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/ssn_predict_l.gif>
*Above:* The sunspot cycle from 1995 to the present. The jagged curve traces
actual sunspot counts. Smooth curves are fits to the data and one
forecaster's predictions of future activity. Credit: David Hathaway,
NASA/MSFC. [more <http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml>]
Quiet suns come along every 11 years or so. It's a natural part of the
sunspot cycle, discovered by German astronomer Heinrich Schwabe in the
mid-1800s. Sunspots are planet-sized islands of magnetism on the surface of
the sun; they are sources of solar flares, coronal mass ejections and
intense UV radiation. Plotting sunspot counts, Schwabe saw that peaks of
solar activity were always followed by valleys of relative calm—a clockwork
pattern that has held true for more than 200 years:
The current solar minimum is part of that pattern. In fact, it's right on
time. "We're due for a bit of quiet—and here it is," says Pesnell.
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But is it supposed to be *this* quiet? In 2008, the sun set the following
*A 50-year low in solar wind pressure:* Measurements by the Ulysses
spacecraft reveal a 20% drop in solar wind pressure since the mid-1990s—the
lowest point since such measurements began in the 1960s. The solar wind
helps keep galactic cosmic rays out of the inner solar system. With the
solar wind flagging, more cosmic rays are permitted to enter, resulting in
increased health hazards for astronauts. Weaker solar wind also means fewer
geomagnetic storms and auroras on Earth.
*A 12-year low in solar "irradiance": *Careful measurements by several NASA
spacecraft show that the sun's brightness has dropped by 0.02% at visible
wavelengths and 6% at extreme UV wavelengths since the solar minimum of
1996. The changes so far are not enough to reverse the course of global
warming, but there are some other significant side-effects: Earth's upper
atmosphere is heated less by the sun and it is therefore less "puffed up."
Satellites in low Earth orbit experience less atmospheric drag, extending
their operational lifetimes. Unfortunately, space junk also remains longer
in Earth orbit, increasing hazards to spacecraft and satellites.
[image: see caption]<http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2009/images/deepsolarminimum/irradiance.jpg>
*Above:* Space-age measurements of the total solar irradiance (brightness
summed across all wavelengths). This plot, which comes from researcher C.
Fröhlich, was shown by Dean Pesnell at the Fall 2008 AGU meeting during a
lecture entitled "What is Solar Minimum and Why Should We Care?"
*A 55-year low in solar radio emissions:* After World War II, astronomers
began keeping records of the sun's brightness at radio wavelengths. Records
of 10.7 cm flux extend back all the way to the early 1950s. Radio telescopes
are now recording the dimmest "radio sun" since 1955:
Some researchers believe that the lessening of radio emissions is an
indication of weakness in the sun's global magnetic field. No one is
certain, however, because the source of these long-monitored radio emissions
is not fully understood.
All these lows have sparked a debate about whether the ongoing minimum is
"weird", "extreme" or just an overdue "market correction" following a string
of unusually intense solar maxima.
"Since the Space Age began in the 1950s, solar activity has been generally
high," notes Hathaway. "Five of the ten most intense solar cycles on record
have occurred in the last 50 years. We're just not used to this kind of deep
Deep calm was fairly common a hundred years ago. The solar minima of 1901
and 1913, for instance, were even longer than the one we're experiencing
now. To match those minima in terms of depth and longevity, the current
minimum will have to last at least another year.
[image: see caption]<http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/226837main_SDOconcept2_HI.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sdo/multimedia/SDOimg_concept2.html&usg=__DSb6L-W_Bv8_sThN_0g017826jM=&h=720&w=1280&sz=437&hl=en&start=16&um=1&tbnid=zL4PwEX1OZy-FM:&tbnh=84&tbnw=150&prev=/images?q=solar%2Bdynamics%2Bobservatory&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&sa=N&um=1>In
a way, the calm is exciting, says Pesnell. "For the first time in history,
we're getting to see what a deep solar minimum is really like." A fleet of
spacecraft including the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the twin
STEREO probes, the five THEMIS probes, Hinode, ACE, Wind, TRACE, AIM, TIMED,
Geotail and others are studying the sun and its effects on Earth 24/7 using
technology that didn't exist 100 years ago. Their measurements of solar
wind, cosmic rays, irradiance and magnetic fields show that solar minimum is
much more interesting and profound than anyone expected.
*Above:* An artist's concept of NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. Bristling
with advanced sensors, "SDO" is slated to launch later this year--perfect
timing to study the ongoing solar minimum. [more <http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/>
Modern technology cannot, however, predict what comes next. Competing models
by dozens of top solar physicists disagree, sometimes sharply, on when this
solar minimum will end and how big the next solar maximum will be. Pesnell
has surveyed the scientific literature and prepared a "piano
showing the range of predictions. The great uncertainty stems from one
simple fact: No one fully understands the underlying physics of the sunspot
Pesnell believes sunspot counts will pick up again soon, "possibly by the
end of the year," to be followed by a solar maximum of below-average
intensity in 2012 or 2013.
But like other forecasters, he knows he could be wrong. Bull or bear? Stay
tuned for updates.
SEND THIS STORY TO A
Author: Dr. Tony Phillips <james.a.phillips at earthlink.net> | Credit:
Science at NASA <http://science.nasa.gov/>
Solar Wind Loses Power, Hits 50-year
(Science at NASA
Spotless Sun: Blankest Year of the Space
(Science at NASA
NASA Heliophysics Science Mission
Explore the Entire Region of the Sun's Influence with NASA's Heliophysics
Space weather resources: NOAA Space Weather Prediction
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2009/4/3 Florent Berthet <florent.berthet at gmail.com>
> Well, the main reason I can think of why there are so few french Exl-ers is
> because french people suck at english. It's actually pretty impressive how
> much shitty a mentality we can have here. About the english language, I had
> already noticed the following in junior high school : if you try to talk
> english with a good accent, most of the time you will be laughed at, even in
> english class (yes, really.).
> In the other and, one reason why there definitely SHOULD be a lot of french
> Exl-ers is because France is one of the least religious countries in the
> World (at the 8th position).
> But in the same time, the culture here is more oriented toward litterature
> than science. And by litterature, I mean french litterature, of course. We
> can still feel some kind of pride in our philosophers and authors of the
> past centuries (which weren't that good in average, but well...). For
> example, during all my schooling, I've always been given boring classic
> french books to read. Nothing recent, nothing coming from other countries,
> nothing even remotely related to science. No wonder then that so few
> frenchies are :
> • open to other cultures and movements (e.g. the transhumanist one)
> • interested in science and the future of our kind ("Isaac Asi-what?!")
> And indeed, the only french group related to those topics I could find on
> Facebook, called "La singularité technologique Fr", has only 42 members...
> This is a real pain, and since this is mostly due to the formal education,
> I don't think this is going to change by itself unless the education policy
> is modified. Unfortunately, this probably won't happen tomorrow. Laurent
> Lafforgue, a french mathematician who received the Fields Medal was, during
> some time, a member of the "Education High Council". He has quickly been
> forced to resign from it because he was highly critical about what they were
> doing to our educational system. He wrote a book on this issue in which he
> explains that these folks really seem to be willing to destroy the logic and
> curiosity of the children. For example, some private (and more independant)
> schools do WAY better than the public schools just by using a different
> pedagogy. But the gov. douches just do the exact opposite of what is widely
> known as the best methods.
> So, this may explain that.
> 2009/4/2 spike <spike66 at att.net>
>> From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
>> [mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Florent
>> Sent: Wednesday, April 01, 2009 8:18 AM
>> To: ExI chat list
>> Subject: Re: [ExI] I am now a creationist
>> Works fine here (I'm in France).
>> Welcome Florent. I think you may be the only ExI poster from France. We
>> noticed some time ago the lack of French ExI-ers. Why? We have several
>> from Italy, some from other European nations but so few from France.
>> extropy-chat mailing list
>> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
> extropy-chat mailing list
> extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org
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