Saturday, October 18, 2008

Incredible Sun

Reader Charlza mentioned this in a comment further down, but it's too awesome to leave buried in the comments. Take a few minutes to browse a most astounding set of high-res photographs of the sun, taken by various research telescopes and sats and collected on Many of them are familiar, but it's a truly breathtaking gallery. Here's one, in thumbnail:

NASA/TRACE image of the sun

Also breathtaking, but in a less wonderful way, is the long list of comments following, where battle rages between those who would thank God for the magnificence and those who bridle at the very notion of "God" being involved when it's all physics. Me, I thank God for the incredible thing that is the sun, and scientists for the incredible pictures that let us see it and begin to understand the physics of how it works and how it got there.

Also on is Way Too Tired?, an article on why, when you're tired (or even just getting over being sick), what you may need to do is not nap, but get up and move around: jog, skate, bike, walk, whatever. Here's why, in abbreviated form:

Scientists are now convinced that fatigue has a real, molecular basis, and that at least two major biological processes are involved: An excess of natural chemicals called pro-inflammatory cytokines, which the body pumps out in response to infection. And sluggish mitochondria, the tiny organelles inside cells that make energy...

[B]ecause both cytokine and mitochondrial problems get worse with excessive rest and improve with moderate exercise, it means exercise is an obvious, and readily available, remedy. A large body of research has already shown that exercise dampens down the "bad" cytokines and boosts the number and efficiency of mitochondria.

This doesn't mean you should go run a marathon if you've got the flu. Quite the contrary. In the acute phase of any illness, your body needs all its available energy to heal. But it does mean that, as soon as possible, you should get out and walk, even if it's just around the block for starters.

I read that just as I was getting up and around again from a nasty cold, and I did indeed get out rollerblading a few times last week, even though exercising was the last thing I felt like doing. It helped.

"Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives." — Socrates

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At 5:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Beautiful, inspiring, and incredible, all in one.

At 2:14 AM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

Isn't it? Hard to believe that that's our sun.

At 10:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I find interesting about the comments is everyone is awestruck by these pictures. It's the beliefs that filter how we interpret them. Seems like a pretty silly thing to argue about when something so incredible is going on right there in our Sun, no matter what we think.

Oh, and the article about fatigue is pretty interesting, too.

At 3:45 AM, Blogger Jeffrey A. Carver said...

>> Seems like a pretty silly thing to argue about when something so incredible is going on right there in our Sun

Sure does, doesn't it?


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