German scientists creating artificial Sun

Scientists in Germany are turning on what is being described as ‘the world’s largest artificial sun.’

Scientists in Germany are turning on what is being described as ‘the world’s largest artificial sun.’

The massive honeycomb-like structure, known as the ‘Synlight’, uses 149 large spotlights typically employed in cinemas, to simulate sunlight.

The scientists will focus the enormous array of xenon short-arc lamps on a single 8/8 inch spot.

The scientists from the German Aerospace Centre hope that by doing so, they will be able to reproduce the equivalent of 10,000 times the solar radiation that would normally shine on a surface the same size.

“If you went in the room when it was switched on, you would burn directly,” said Professor Bernard Hoffschmidt, a research director at the DLR, where the experiment is sheltered in a protective radiation chamber.

The experiment consumes as much electricity in four hours as a four-person household would in a year.

The furnace-like conditions that will be created by this energy will reach up to 5,432 Fahrenheit (3,000 degrees Celsius.)

The German government is one of the world’s biggest investors in renewable energy.

The scientists will attempt to find ways of tapping the vast amount of energy that hits the earth in the form of light from the sun.

One of the primary areas of research will be on how to produce hydrogen efficiently. This will be the first step towards creating artificial fuel for airplanes.

According to Professor Hoffschimdt, billions of tons of hydrogen would be needed to drive airplanes and cars on CO2-free fuel.

Hydrogen is considered a promising future source of fuel. This is because it does not produce carbon emissions, therefore not contributing to global warming.

Future humans could overcome expansion of the universe

Dyson spheres could be used to anchor stars within the Milky Way.

Existential threats to humanity range from urgent, to a distant possibility. One such remote threat is the accelerating expansion of the universe. While most wouldn’t consider this a real threat, particle physicist, Dan Hooper, at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, points out why it is a threat we should consider.

He points out that things beyond the cosmic horizon—the maximum distance that light can travel to us within the age of the universe—are beyond our ability to study, or influence. Stars, galaxies, even civilizations are beyond the cosmic horizon, and beyond our ability to contact or see them. According to an article in MIT Technology Review discussing Hooper’s theory, the cosmic horizon is changing and this will affect our neighborhood in the universe, which astronomers call the Local Group. The Local Group (50 nearby galaxies bound to the Milky Way) will be humanity’s home for the foreseeable future. But these galaxies may not always be within our reach to possibly colonize, as the accelerating expansion of the universe sends galaxies over the horizon at a rate that’s increasing.

As Hooper explains, “over the next approximately 100 billion years, all stars residing beyond the Local Group will fall beyond the cosmic horizon and become not only unobservable, but entirely inaccessible.” This eventuality would interfere with humanity’s ability to exploit ever more stars for energy. However, Hooper believes there is a way to mitigate the effects of an expansion. He believes that an advanced civilization could build a Dyson sphere that emits waste radiation in a specific direction to accelerate the sphere—and the star it contains—in the opposite direction of the acceleration. Over time, this technology could be used to gather stars as a source of energy, keeping them inside the cosmic horizon. So, potential problem solved? Well, as the article acknowledges, first the assumption that the expansion of the universe is accelerating would have to be correct.

Ammonia clouds, jet streams cause Jupiter’s swirling colors

Pressurized magnetic fields 1,800 feet below the surface abruptly cut off the planet’s jet streams.

Jupiter’s iconic horizontal bands and color swirls are caused by strong jet streams or bands of wind that push colorful ammonia clouds across the planet, according to a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal.

The horizontal colored bands for which the giant planet is famous are made up of ammonia in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, which gives them a variety of colors, including white, yellow, orange, red, and brown.

Unlike Earth, Jupiter has no known solid surface, resulting in the bands diving deeply into its gaseous subsurface of hydrogen and helium.

According to researcher Navid Constantinou of the Australian National University (ANU) Research School of Earth Sciences, Jupiter’s jet streams, which drive the flow of gases around the giant planet’s outer atmosphere, are influenced and shaped by magnetized gases far below the planet’s surface.

NASA’s Juno spacecraft, which has been orbiting Jupiter since July 2016, recently found that the planet’s jet streams extend to a depth of 1,800 miles (3,000 km) before coming to a sudden end.

Without solid geography such as mountains and large landmasses, Jupiter’s jet streams are never modified and therefore stay straight and regular, as opposed to Earth’s jet streams, which are obstructed by surface features that make them wavy and irregular.

Working with Jeff Parker of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California, Constantinou created a mathematical model of planetary jet streams based on those of Earth, which drive its climate and weather. They found that Jupiter’s atmosphere, which is composed largely of hydrogen and helium, undergoes heavy pressure beneath the surface that strips electrons from hydrogen and helium molecules, generating electric and magnetic fields.

Pressure from these electric and magnetic fields begins approximately 1,800 miles (3,000 km) beneath the surface, exactly where the jet streams abruptly end.

Movements and patterns seen in surface horizontal bands are influenced by these intense subsurface magnetic fields.

“We think our new theory explains why the jet streams go as deep as they do under the gas giant’s surface but don’t go any deeper,” Parker said.

Studying Jupiter’s atmosphere gives scientists important insights into the general atmospheric flows of planets, Constantinou noted.