Author Archive | Ouabache

Republicans, Religion and the Triumph of Unreason

Something strange has happened in America in the nine months since Barack Obama was elected. It has best been summarised by the comedian Bill Maher: “The Democrats have moved to the right, and the Republicans have moved to a mental hospital.”

The election of Obama – a black man with an anti-conservative message – as a successor to George W. Bush has scrambled the core American right’s view of their country. In their gut, they saw the US as a white-skinned, right-wing nation forever shaped like Sarah Palin.

When this image was repudiated by a majority of Americans in a massive landslide, it simply didn’t compute. How could this have happened? How could the cry of “Drill, baby, drill” have been beaten by a supposedly big government black guy? So a streak that has always been there in the American right’s world-view – to deny reality, and argue against a demonic phantasm of their own creation – has swollen.… Read the rest

Sun Spot Problem Finally Solved

You’d think the return of blemishes on your face would be an unwelcome thing. But if the face is that of the Sun, and the blemish is actually a planet-sized knot of tangled magnetic fields, then it’s actually most welcome indeed. Because now we’re starting to understand why they’re coming back.

After nearly two years of an acne-free surface, the first sunspots are starting to pop up on the Sun. Sunspots are regions on the Sun where the magnetic field lines of our nearest star erupt through its surface, and are an indicator of the amount of magnetic activity going on inside the Sun. Unlike a simple bar magnet, the solar magnetic field activity increases and decreases on a roughly 11-year cycle, and the number of sunspots follows in response. When the magnetic activity starts to rise after the cycle bottoms out, sunspots start to appear at a solar latitude of 22 degrees, and spread north and south from there.… Read the rest

Sun Spot Problem Finally Solved

You’d think the return of blemishes on your face would be an unwelcome thing.

But if the face is that of the Sun, and the blemish is actually a planet-sized knot of tangled magnetic fields, then it’s actually most welcome indeed. Because now we’re starting to understand why they’re coming back.

http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/pickoftheweek/MDI_quiet.jpg

After nearly two years of an acne-free surface, the first sunspots are starting to pop up on the Sun. Sunspots are regions on the Sun where the magnetic field lines of our nearest star erupt through its surface, and are an indicator of the amount of magnetic activity going on inside the Sun. Unlike a simple bar magnet, the solar magnetic field activity increases and decreases on a roughly 11-year cycle, and the number of sunspots follows in response. When the magnetic activity starts to rise after the cycle bottoms out, sunspots start to appear at a solar latitude of 22 degrees, and spread north and south from there.… Read the rest