January 19th, 2010 09:28 EST
Does Size Really Matter? Is the Sun shrinking?
Scientists have developed a theory that the sun is shrinking. How can this be, you ask? It`s hotter than ever. Global warming is in most of the newspapers. Heck, even kindergarteners know about Global Warming. How could the Sun be shrinking?
Don`t ask me. I`ve got an IQ that just allows me to play World of Warcraft while jamming to RUSH. I`m in no way qualified to start babbling calculations in a Dexter-esque manner. I can, however, tell you this; the Sun has indeed, been shrinking. Recent studies have provided evidence that the Sun actually shrinks about 5 feet every hour.
Now wait, before you call Bruce Willis and beg him to save the world, consider that our Sun is close to one million miles in diameter. Trust me, five feet per hour will take a mighty long time to eat away at that mass. The fact is, though, the Sun is shrinking, and even in such small daily amounts, it is apparently continual.
So, ok. Don`t panic. What do we do? Well, let`s just look at the facts. Why has the shrinkage of the Sun suddenly become such a hot topic if it isn`t really going to affect us? Indeed, my dear Watson, why?
Politics, people, religion. The standard subjects that start wars and end marriages. Sun shrinkage, we`ll call it Sun degradation ", is a platform. It`s the new rope in a religious and political tug-o-war.
Creationists, those that believe that the Universe and all it entails were made by a God or Supreme Being, offer up solar degradation as proof that life began about 6 thousand years ago, and no earlier. In keeping with the 5 feet per hour theory, let`s push rewind. The Sun at that time would have been roughly 6% larger then. Ok, so their robes were made of linen for a reason and those sandals were more than just a fashion statement started by the JC Clan. Ok, I`m buying it, thus far.
Let`s go further back. A hundred thousand years ago, the Sun would be twice the size it is today. Man, that sounds hot. I`ll never complain about the Texas summers again. Honest.
Let`s keep going. At a rate of 5 ft/hour added back to the Sun, you can assume that 20 million years ago, the Earth was actually inside the Sun. Ok, I`m starting to sweat.
Those things being true, I have to side with the Creationists. There is no way that the Earth could have been here and inhabited by anything at that point in time. Unless you believe in the Lava Monster, yeah, the one that used to get you if you stepped off the coffee table before you jumped to the couch. Surely you remember that guy?
So it looks like the Creationists have a pretty valid point. It just wasn`t possible for there to be life on Earth that long ago, thanks to Mr. Golden Sun. Or was there? Consider that the 5 ft per hour shrinkage is a constant, and has been a constant. So, that supports the Creationist`s theory. However, I don`t recall saying it`s been constant. Like everything else, the Sun moves in cycles.
Cycles? Yes. Ebb and flow, people, ebb and flow. Everything moves in cycles. I even saw a diaper on TV last night that shrinks and expands around a baby`s tummy as gases build up during the night. Trust me, if it`s possible that an actual think tank was developed to determine how to compensate for a baby fart, then it`s possible that the Sun comes and goes.
Deciding that the Sun shrinks at 5 feet per hour and always has is ludicrous. It`s just not that easy. Sure, sounds good. Just go back in time adding those lost feet back and see how long it takes to get to a size that would have cooked us faster than a Ron Popeil product. NO! It`s not that simple. We must take into account the variables.
The Sun shrinks because of its own self-gravitational attraction. It compresses itself, heats up, then the heat escapes in the form of sunlight. Perhaps the Sun needs one of those new diapers?
It`s a continuous cycle of birth, and re-birth. Consider the tides. It`s ridiculous to see the tide come in and assume its going to stay there, just as you wouldn`t watch the tide go out, then start building a house on the dry spot. You know it`s going to change. Ebb and flow, yet again.
It`s the same with the Sun. It expands and contracts. Sure, it`s old. It`s tired. It lost a little of its luster over the years and may indeed be shrinking, a little.
It`s nothing for us to worry about, though. It`s a natural oscillation that has been happening since the sun was first formed. There is no evidence to suggest that 20 million years ago, it was enveloping the planet. Quite the contrary, remains have been found, human and animal alike, that suggest that the Earth was doing just fine way back when.
So why the big debate? Even if the Sun continues on this diet of sorts and continues to shrink, it`s going to take about 20 million more years before we notice. Even a vampire, a creature purported to live forever, would say, 20 Million years? Day-UM. That`s a mighty long time."
I have faith in our Sun, however. I expect it will shrink and expand, shrink and expand, for many, many more millions of years. I even offer up the hypothesis that it will be around longer and do more shrinking and expanding alternately than Anna Nicole Smith and Oprah put together. It`s just a thought.