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.
AI Identifies Suicidal Behavior With 93 Percent Accuracy
'...He padded into the living room, and seated himself by the suitcase; he opened it, clicked switches, and turned on Dr. Smile.'
Razer Project Valerie Laptop Unfurls
'A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled silently...'
Can Virtual Reality help People Cope With Pain?
Research is promising.
Dust Movement On The Moon, Saturn's Rings Solved
'...The dust normally on the surface picks up and keeps a charge.'
Largest Micro-Drone Swarm Release Successful
'... Programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern.'
Robot Motion Planning 10K Times Faster
'The robot crab... fired a burst of light, then froze...'
Reconfigured Graphene 10X Strong, 5 Percent Dense, As Steel
'...It was made of Alohydrolium, which is the lightest of all metals.'
Axiom - The World's First Private Space Station?
'So Webb Foster had built his space laboratory... It was a great crystal sphere, a thousand feet in diameter.'
DataTraveler Ultimate Generation 2 Terabyte Flashdrive
'A man or woman could carry AIs or complete planetary data spheres...'
HyperFace Aims To Foil Facial Recognition
'...A million and a half physiognomic fraction-representations of various people.'
MIT's aeroMorph Technology
'... It falls into that structure like a rubber figure returning to shape.'
Woolim DPRK Surveillance Tablet And Doctorow's 'Schoolbook'
'...cracking my SchoolBook had been easy.' Take heed, North Koreans!
Google Home Continues Implementation Of Pohl's Joymaker
'It is a transponder connecting you with the central computing facilities of the city in which you reside on a shared-time, self-programming basis.'
The Sheep Look Up In Beijing
'The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed...'
Festo's eMotionButterfly, AirJelly And AirPenguin Robots
... Bright beings darted through the hot light.'
Griff 300 Octocopter Carries You And Friend
'The cab came floating down out of the sky...'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories