The Slightly Disgruntled Scientist

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Destroy the Sun!

There is, in our very proximity, a terrible entity representing the single greatest natural disaster in the history of the human sphere of existence. This seething mass of superheated gas is solely responsible for pain and suffering the world over. Long has it been accepted as a fixture, an invariant object in our environment, but I am convinced that it is time - no longer will we suffer the flames of this fiery beast! We must galvanise, and exercise our creative abilites to conceive a viable, practical solution: this fiery behemoth that dominates our solar system must be extinguished.

Sun
The Sun - a sinister and destructive force. Image from SOHO website.

The Sun is a star located at the centre of our solar system. It is classified as a G2 star, has a mass of about 2×1030 kg, a temperature of 5800 K at the surface and a core temperature of 15.6 million Kelvin. It constantly emits electromagnetic radiation over the entire spectrum (indeed, it can be modelled as a black body), peaked at the wavelength corresponding to that of green light.

Health

Perhaps the health risks are the most alarming aspect of this phenomenon. For those not familiar with nuclear radiation and dosimetry, basically, nuclear radiation can have varying effects on the human body depending on the type, strength and time over which we are exposed to it. The SI unit for absorbed dose is the Sievert (this is actually a very large quantity - in practice, the microSievert µS or milliSievert mS are used).To give an indication of the sort of levels we are exposed to, the average person will receive 600-800 µS·y-1 (per year) from radiological procedures (such as X-rays and CT scans), and about 1.2 mS·y-1 from naturally occuring Thoron (actually an isotope of Radon - 220Rn) and Radon (222Rn).

For the average person who does not go on any interstate or international flights, the annual dose from the Sun is typically around 0.6 mSv·y-1 - or half of that from Thoron/Radon. If you happen to take an aeroplane for a few hours during the day, this contribution can be multiplied by up to one hundred. This is quite a significant dose! For those out there concerned about the nearby nuclear power plant (and, realistically, fossil fuel plants), I would suggest looking upwards (not literally, of course) to that great sphere in the sky for the real culprit. Skin cancer - caused almost entirely by the Sun, is ubiquitous but deadly.

Science

Further to these crimes and indignities, the Sun is one of the most dominant inhibitors in the pursuit of science - particularly our oldest science, astronomy. Light pollution is the curse of the city dwelling astronomer - the increased levels of light from buildings, stadiums and streetlights make it much more difficult to distinguish the already faint stellar images. A trip out to the country is a frequent activity for the avid stargazer who wishes to leave the glow of the city behind for some serious observation. However, no matter where you travel, your studies of the sky will be periodically interrupted by the great glowing orb, obliterating your view as you wait patiently for night to fall.

And it’s not just the telescope happy nerds that are hard done by. As mentioned above, a massive amount of radiation is spewed out by the Sun, constinuously and unabating. The nuclear physicist trying to measure levels of radioactivity, especially at low levels, can be driven barking mad by this steadfast solar stream swamping their sensitive sensors. Even this inconvenience would be able to be worked around, were it not for the fact that this radiation, while consistently strong, fluctuates wildly over even short periods of time - these fluctuations often being orders of magnitude greater than the very levels that are being measured.

Nuclear

Humanity has, over the last few decades, discovered and experimented with nuclear science and technology - the results being as dichotomous as any other technology. From the almost miraculous healing, diagnostic and palliative capabilities of nuclear medicine, and the precision it allows our industries, to the destructive power of nuclear weaponry, we can look to see manifestations of the subatomic phenomena. The Sun itself is the largest local example of nuclear power - unlike the fission used for nuclear power generation (where energetic, unstable atoms split) the process taking place in the core of the Sun is fusion - where two small atoms (Hydrogen) smash together to create Helium, Lithium and Beryllium, releasing massive amounts of energy.

As we tinkered with nuclear technology, we discovered its capacity for destruction and pollution if not used properly. And so we set down rules and regulations so that scientific and technological use would be safe and relatively clean. However, all regulatory authorities have turned a blind eye (so to speak) at our very own Sun - consuming massive amounts of fuel, releasing unimaginable quantities of energy and, of course, producing massive amounts of waste. We have absolutely no plan as to how to cope with the waste being produced, both in the short term and long term, and it is steadily accumulating. But compared to what awaits us, the waste issue is fairy bread.

Danger

In five billion years, the Sun will explode. Well, not straight away. First, as it runs out of fuel, the outward radiation pressure will not be able to counter the inward gravitational pull, and the sun will slowly collapse. As it collapses, it will burn more fiercely, desparately using up the last of its fuel. In a monstrous finale, the core will become unstable and begin expanding throughout the solar system, consuming Mercury, then Venus, and then inevitably us. Of course, we will probably be annihilated by the time it passes Mercury, but any remaining life above or below the surface has no chance of surviving the rapidly expanding cloud of superheated gas.

Are we going to calmly await this morbid fate? Are we going to tell our children that there’s nothing that can be done? Or are we going to use the 35 000 year old instinct for survival and pre-empt our doom? What would you rather do?

I implore those of you who read this to abandon the culture of acceptance that is so rampant in our global society, and to rise to the challenge. I feel that a task this enourmous should be met as a welcome challenge that can be worked on communally and perhaps even pacify our nations in cooperation. This is not something we can prevaricate and procrastinate over - this is a situation that demands immediate and decisive action.

We must destroy the Sun.


Please feel free to send me your views on this topic. If there is any argument I may have missed, please bring it to my attention so I can research and feature it, or make fun of it.

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