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Can you feel a solar wind Ask an Astronomer

Our star, the Sun, is the source of light and heat for us here on Earth, but it has other, more subtle, effects as well. The Sun produces a kind of wind, one that is very different from the breezes that we're all familiar with. Unlike winds on Earth, which are circulating air currents, the solar wind starts in the outer layers of the Sun. There the temperatures are so high that the hydrogen gas atoms are broken up into electrons and protons. These charged particles are churned up by the Sun's strong magnetic field and are flung out through the Solar System, forming this wind.

Occasional outbursts on the surface of the Sun, like this solar flare, greatly increase the strength of the solar wind. So can we ever feel this wind Well, down here it turns out we're very well protected. Long before the solar wind ever reaches the ground, it's deflected by the Earth's magnetic field. Some of the charged solar wind particles can make it though near the poles but are stopped by the atmosphere, producing beautiful nighttime displays of aurorae. Spacecraft that operate beyond the Earth's magnetic field have no such protection, and their sensitive electronics can be disrupted by the solar wind.

NASA IRIS The Science of NASAs Newest Solar Explorer

Music Narrator The secrets of the sun, are hidden in how energy travels up through its layers out into space. The sun's energy starts in its core a giant fusion engine where hydrogen atoms are turned into helium atoms. The energy produced their moves up through the convection zone to the sun's surface, the photosphere. Moving magnetic fields contribute extra energy along the way. As energy moves outward, the temperature continually drops. This is just as one would expect, while moving away from a heat source. Adrian Daw Up until that point everything makes sense, in that the hottest.

Part is in the middle, and everything gets gradually cooler as we move away. But then something very interesting starts to happen which is that it starts to get hotter again. Narrator This layer, where the temperature mysteriously begins to rise again, is called the, chromosphere. It lies in an interface region between the photosphere and the corona the hottest and outer most region of the sun's atmosphere. Observations from the IRIS mission will help distinguish among numerous theories on how corona is powered. Adrian Daw IRIS will show the solar chromosphere in more detail.

Then has ever been seen before. It will be taking images in spectra of specifically chosen wavelengths of ultra violet light and these will be the highest resolution, perhaps more importantly, a more rapid rate then has ever been done before. Narrator The interphase region is the greatest source of ultra violet light that impacts the Earth and the space around it. Only a specifically designed spacecraft can image the wavelengths of light needed to study the chromosphere. Advance computer modeling will enable scientists to interpret the data, and better understand how the energy moves.

Through the chromosphere. Adrian Daw The light from the chromosphere is difficult to interpret because of the complicated interaction that the light has with the matter, bounces around if you will many times before its final bounce, towards this. And this means that interaction between light and matter is to be modeled in great detail due to, not just advances in computational power of computers but, in the computational techniques that have been developed by the IRIS team. We are in a position to do this. Narrator It takes only a small fraction of the chromospheres.

Energy to power the corona. Adrian Daw Although the corona is extremely hot, millions of degrees, it's at a low density, so it doesn't actually take a lot of energy to heat it to that temperature. The chromosphere on the other hand is a much higher density all be it, lower temperature and there's much more energy deposited in the chromosphere in the corona. So that a tiny fraction of that energy in the chromosphere escaping into the corona is, is plenty to power all of the processes that we see.

Halloween Special Watch FleshEating Beetles Strip Bodies to the Bone Deep Look

Death and decomposition are the parts of our biology we try hardest to forget. But to study life, you've got to look death in the face. And try, if you can, to contain it. The Museum of Vertebrate Zoology at UC Berkeley has mastered the art of preserving dead things. They call this the library of life. It's an enormous collection, providing future generations of researchers a window back in time. But specimens don't look like this when they get here. They still have flesh, skin and eyes. These scientists receive hundreds of carcasses a year.

It's their job to preserve each animal for long term use in the collections upstairs. And the work is not for the squeamish. They carefully remove skins to be stuffed, take flesh samples and record stomach contents. The final challenge is to clean the flesh from the bones without damaging them. And to do this, preparators rely on an unlikely ally flesheating beetles. These dermestid beetles are direct descendants from the original colony established in this museum in 1924. The process was pioneered here. In nature these charming little creatures are death homing devices.

They'll find a dead body about a week after death and lay eggs in the drying flesh. The larvae emerge with a voracious appetite, outgrowing their skins six to eight times in just days. What makes dermestids ideal for this job is that they're fast and fastidious eaters. They can pick a carcass clean while leaving even the most delicate structures intact. But the alliance between beetles and museum is an uneasy one. Downstairs the beetles are a critical tool. But if dermestids get loose upstairs, they can wreak havoc in the library stacks. munching through the specimen drawers and ruining entire.

Instant Ice Waterbending In Real Life!

In just 3 easy steps, you'll be able to flash freeze a bottle of water just by touching it. Next you'll learn how to to freeze flowing water, the instant it's poured from the bottle. And your training will be complete when you can eliminate the bottle altogether. Now this might seem slightly supernatural, but you don't have to be a master to do it. In this project, we're discovering the secrets to Icebending in real life. For this project, we'll be using these bottles of purified water. I've got the 16.9 ounce.

Bottles, and they've never been opened, so the water is extremely pure. Now the secret to instant ice is just about as simple as placing your bottles in the freezer. I let these ones sit for 2 hours and 45 minutes exactly, and here you can see the water is still liquid, but it's actually cooled down to a temperature well below freezing. All it takes from this point is a sharp jolt to the bottle, and you can see the water flash freezes to ice right in the palm of your hand. How cool is that You can also start the reaction.

By using an ice crystal, like one these ice cubes. Just carefully remove the cap from the bottle, and pour the water directly onto the ice. The water immediately beings to crystalize, giving you the power to create your own instant ice sculptures. The end result is a slush that has the consistency of a watery snowball. which, of course, is 100 edible, and refreshingly delicious. Now try pouring your supercooled water into a clean glass, and drop a bit of ice right in the center. You'll see the ice crystal beings to grow until it fills the.

Glass completely. That's perfectly chilled for a hot summers day. Alright, let's finish up by dipping just the tip of an ice cube in to see what happens. Within a couple of seconds it's frozen in place, and the entire cup is solid. Well, now you know the secret to pouring yourself some instant ice, and making water freeze on command. Now, if you'd like to see more of the technical details, check out my other tutorial with tips, tricks, and things to watch out for when making Instant Ice. That's it for now. If you liked this.

Stanford simulations show offshore wind farms could tame hurricanes

MUSIC gtgt Stanford University. gtgt We found that large arrays of offshore wind turbines could not only reduce wind speeds of the hurricane by up to 50, or 25 to 40 meters per second, but also storm surge by anywhere from six to seven to 80. Thereby reducing storm damage. The way we carried out this experiment is through numerical remodeling of the atmosphere. And so we ran simulations for three different hurricanes, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Isaac, and Hurricane Sandy. We ran simulations without turbines present and then with turbines present.

And, in fact, we have results here. So, on the left side in both cases, are Hurricane Katrina and as it hits land, it starts to dissipate, it's causing damage over land. Now, if you add turbines, we added. tur, tens of thousands of turbines in this triangular region, up here and you can see, initially, that these turbines are reducing the wind speeds significantly. And you can see that once the hurricane hits over land, that the hurricane is dissipated almost entirely, in that region, downwind of the turbine. These turbines would pay for themselves over time.

But, because they are used yearround to generate electricity. They just serve an additional benefit to reduce the damage of hurricanes. Some people might ask, well won't the wind turbines get destroyed by the hurricane But, we found that whether it's in the gulf coast or east coast the hurricane actually dissipates by the time it reaches the turbines, such that the wind speeds never get up to the destruction wind speed of the hurricane, even in something so powerful as Hurricane Katrina. gtgt For more, please visit us at stanford.edu.

NASA What is a Sungrazing Comet

Bell Tone Bell Tone Narrator All the comets that we can see from Earth are orbiting the sun, but some belong to a special group called sungrazing comets. Sungrazers are comets that come very close to the sun at their nearest approach, a point called perihelion. To be considered a sungrazer, a comet needs to get within about 850,000 miles from the sun at perihelion. Many come even closer, even to within a few thousand miles. Being so close to the sun is very hard on comets for many reasons. They are subjected to a lot of solar radiation.

Which boils off their water or other volatiles. The physical push of the radiation and the solar wind also helps form the tails. And as they get closer to the sun, the comets experience extremely strong tidal forces, or gravitational stress. In this hostile environment, many sungrazers do not survive their trip around the sun. They don't actually crash into the solar surface, but the sun destroys them anyway. Many sungrazing comets follow a similar orbit, called the Kreutz Path, and collectively belong to a population called the Kreutz Group. In fact, close to.

85 of the sungrazers seen by the SOHO satellite are on this orbital highway. Scientists think one extremely large sungrazing comet broke up hundreds, or even thousands, of years ago, and the current comets on the Kreutz Path are the leftover fragments of it. As clumps of remnants make their way back around the sun, we experience a sharp increase in sungrazing comets, which appears to be going on now. Comet Lovejoy, which reached perihelion on December 15, 2011 is the best known recent Kreutzgroup sungrazer. And so far, it is the only one that NASA's.

Solarobserving fleet has seen survive its trip around the sun. Comet ISON, an upcoming sungrazer with perihelion on November 28, 2013, is not on the Kreutz Path. In fact, ISON's orbit suggests that it may gain enough momentum to escape the solar system entirely, and never return. Before it does so, it will pass within about 40 million miles from Earth on December 26th. Assuming it survives its trip around the sun. All comets are great laboratories for scientists to learn more about our solar system, but sungrazing comets can also help us learn.

About the sun. Their tails of ionized gas illuminate invisible magnetic fields, so they can act as a tracer, helping scientists observe these normally unseeable features. Such fields have even ripped off comet tails, allowing astronomers to watch them blowing in the solar wind. A wind that abruptly accelerates between one and five million miles from the sun. Because of this, researchers will be watching ISON, and other sungrazing comets very closely. And since we are in a period of high sungrazing comet activity, scientists can expect many more chances to watch these beautiful,.

Energy 101 Concentrating Solar Power

Bjbj Take the natural heat from the sun, reflect it against a mirror, focus all of that heat on one area, send it through a power system, and you've got a renewable way of making electricity. It's called concentrating solar power, or CSP. Now, there are many types of CSP technologies. Towers, dishes, linear mirrors, and troughs. Have a look at this parabolic trough system. Parabolic troughs are large mirrors shaped like a giant U. These troughs are connected together in long lines and will track the sun throughout the day. When the sun's heat.

Is reflected off the mirror, the curved shape sends most of that reflected heat onto a receiver. The receiver tube is filled a fluid. It could be oil, molten salt something that holds the heat well. Basically, this super hot liquid heats water in this thing called a heat exchanger and the water turns to steam. The steam is sent off to a turbine, and from there, it's business as usual inside a power plant. A steam turbine spins a generator and the generator makes electricity. Once the fluid transfers it heat, it's recycled and used over and over.

And the steam is also cooled, condensed and recycled again and again. One big advantage of these trough systems is that the heated fluid can be stored and used later to keep making electricity when the sun isn't shining. Sunny skies and hot temperatures make the southwest U.S. an ideal place for these kinds of power plants. Many concentrated solar power plants could be built within the next several years. And a single plant can generate 250 megawatts or more, which is enough to power about 90,000 homes. That's a lot of electricity.

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