Solar Tadpoles Explained By Boffins
Solar "tadpoles" - dark shadows that seem to wiggle down toward the surface of the sun during flares - may have been explained by University of Warwick astrophysicists.
(From Solar Tadpoles)
For several years, scientists who study the sun have been intrigued by this mysterious phenomenon. Dr Valery Nakariakov and Dr Erwin Verwichte analysed observations obtained with NASA's "Transition Region And Coronal Explorer" (TRACE) space mission. They theorize that the wiggles of the tadpoles' tails are earth-sized waves similar to the waves in a flag blown by the wind. They think that the waves are produced by a phenomenon known as "negative energy waves"; waves pull energy from the medium they propagate through. The "tadpoles" are optical illusions, rather than real physical structures; the apparently descending tadpole head marks the falling start point of the matter's upward acceleration.
(From Solar Tadpoles)
Science fiction writers have had fun with the idea that living creatures could exist in the intense heat of a star like our sun. Arthur C. Clarke wrote a wonderful story about a solar observatory on the planet Mercury that made an incredible, unexpected observation during a massive flare:
We were looking at what seemed to be a translucent oval, its interior laced with a network of almost invisible lines. Where the lines crossed there appeared to be tiny, pulsing nodes of light...
What we were seeing was impossible, yet the evidence was there before our eyes. We were looking at life, where no life could exist.
The eruption had hurled the thing out of its normal environment, deep down in the flaming atmosphere of the sun...
(From Out of the Sun ~1959)
More recently, Stephen Baxter wrote in his 1994 novel Ring about photino birds, creatures that lived within suns, and could even fly between them:
She descended into the Sun, through the ... flock of photino birds. The birds soared past and around her, tiny planets of dark matter racing through their tight solar orbits.
The birds continually nudged toward or away from each other, like a horde of satellites maneuvering for docking. Many of the transient clusters they formed ... seemed immensely complex. There had to be a reason for all this activity...
(From Ring, published 1994)
It turns out that there was a reason - but you'll have to read the book to find out! Other works in the "creatures on the sun" genre include Proof by Hal Clement and Sundiver by David Brin.
Read the original article at Solar Tadpoles Wave At Astrophysicists; they also have a very cool solar tadpole animation (warning - high bandwidth and lots of time required). Thanks to Fred Kiesche at the eternal golden braid for the tip and sf background on this story.
Oh, and the word "boffin" - well, it's one of those British tabloid slang expressions that I've always wanted to use. I think it denotes a stereotypical portly scientist with thick hornrim glasses - Americans might picture scientists as drawn by Gary Larson in The Far Side. UK readers should feel free to contribute clarifications. I use it in its WWII-era sense of a dedicated research scientist who contributes all manner of useful knowledge to a grateful humanity.
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/25/2005)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 3 )
Related News Stories -
Is There A Subterranean Ocean?
'A vast, limitless expanse of water, the end of a lake if not of an ocean, spread before us, until it was lost in the distance.'- Jules Verne, 1864.
The Robotic Shopping Cart Of The Future
'...the machine would carry his bag in its soft plastic jaws and follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'- John Brunner, 1975.
Arctic Resource Jackpot An Old Wish
By inducing climate change, new resources are revealed.
Marie Curie's Papers Still Radioactive
And the half-life of radium's most common isotope is 1,601 years.
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Soft Robotics - Now With 3D Printed Sensors!
'A series of chemelectric afferent nerve-analogues, which permitted it to gauge to an ounce the amount of pressure necessary to snap a bone...'
AI Tool Lynx Insight And The Cybernetic Newsroom
'The structure,... was once a great homeostatic newspaper, the New York Times. It printed itself directly below us...'
Espresso Telescope Searches For Exoplanets
'These instruments were the wonderful ones our astronomers had perfected.'
Dune Fans! Metal-Organic Frameworks Make Science Fiction Real
'Dew collectors,' he muttered, enchanted by the simple beauty of such a scheme.
Manned Maneuvering Unit From 1984
'The glittering little rocket bolted to the black iron behind him.'
Astronaut Gets Younger In Space
'So what we're looking for now is not an antibiotic - an anti-life drug - but an anti-agathic, an anti-death drug...'
Blockchain Used To Verify Election Results
'Any adult could punch into the phone his or her code, followed by a yes or no.'
IJOP Integrated Joint Operations Platform China's Minority Report?
'All day long the idiots babbled, imprisoned in their special high-backed chairs...'
HushMe Bluetooth Device Reinvents The Hush-A-Phone
'Talking into a hush-a-phone which he had plugged into the telephone jack...'
Ultrathin Brain Needle Developed At MIT
Putting drugs into a selected cubic millimeter within the living brain.
Tesla Semi Truck Now At Work
Why wait? Tesla Semi now hard at work.
Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation
'This digital device was ... A machine able literally to contain the Universe Itself...'
Scaly Yet Soft Robotic Snake
Love those robotic sneks.
Cool Tinsley Lunar Unicycle Update
Great update of a timeless classic.
NASA's 'Armstrong' Soft Wearable Upper Extremity Garment
'Exact same articulation as your shoulder joint, and it holds your muscles out of the way...'
Kuri Robot Roams Your Home, Taking Pictures
'Small devices with cameras and sound equipment which could move freely...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories