- Education and Science
Creating Alternative Sunshine
The source of light
and heat from the
Sun may be
energy from space
through the corona.
Sunshine is the primary source of all life and growth. It is experienced as a blissful creative energy, relaxing and healing, capable of producing a range of vibrant colours. By an extraordinary pair of natural coincidences, not only is the spectral response of the human eye exactly matched to the spectrum of sunlight at the Earth's surface, so also is the transmission window of pure water. Our fondest visual pleasures can be found equally amongst overland wildflower landscapes and undersea coral reefs.
Why this should be the case for an arbitrarily-formed Sun is an intuitive mystery. The powerhouse for radiant sunshine is conventionally supposed to be nuclear fusion at its core, a process that releases deadly gamma radiation. In its million-year passage through the intensely-hot pressurised hydrogen layers to the surface, this high-energy flux of photons hypothetically degrades to the paradoxical state of beneficial heat and light.
If we believe this interpretation, Earth and humanity are bathed daily in decomposing poison, shielded from its residual effects by our thick atmosphere. So good photons are created from bad photons, fortunately reformed and selected for us. We survive because we receive the only form of sunshine at the Earth's surface that we can tolerate.
Such a line of reasoning, though entirely plausible, fails by assigning everything created by sunshine to the slim double negative of narrowly avoiding worse consequences, instead of recognising its intrinsically positive nature. Too bad, say our astrophysicists. No other conceivable process can produce such vast amounts of radiated energy over the Sun's ten-billion year lifetime. Or could one? Might the source of the Sun's energy not be nuclear fusion, after all?
Sunshine is created by a photosphere in a curious state of existence. For a Sun which is supposed to be hotter from its surface inwards towards the core and cooler from its surface into space, we discover the contradictions of cooler sunspots and hotter corona, respectively. The umbra of a sunspot is at a temperature of 4000 degrees kelvin (K) and typically lies about a thousand kilometres below the surface of the photosphere, which is close to 6000K; while the corona may be greater than one million K at a distance of a Sun radius into space. Both phenomena either convincingly deny the second law of thermodynamics, or indicate that energy is being almost invisibly transferred from the outside of the Sun inwards and not the inside outwards.
Sunspots are associated with very high magnetic fields, and have so far been self-evidently assumed to influence plasma heat convection towards the surface of the Sun. Or do they instead disrupt a resonant energy transfer between outer space and inner photosphere, which would more credibly explain the dark umbra? Similarly, might the tenuous outer atmosphere of the Sun be intercepting very high energies, as such a transfer approaches its optimum space curvature within the photosphere?
A number of dimensionless physics coincidences make this alternative scenario a much more attractive one. Predominant amongst these are:
1. The physical body radius of the Sun rs divided by its Schwarzchild radius Rs=2GMs/c2 is very close (0.2% relative disagreement) to the dimensionless surface area of the hydrogen atom 4πα-2, where α is the electromagnetic fine-structure constant.
2. This body radius rs
divided by the hydrogen Bohr radius a0 is finely tuned
(with just over 1% relative disagreement) to the inverse square root
of the gravitational fine-structure constant, β-1/2=(hc/2πGmp2)1/2.
3. To within about 95% relative agreement, the ratio of the peak energy of sunshine at the Earth's surface Es to the rest-mass energy of the electron Ee is just the ratio Es/Ee=Rs/rs (this factor becomes 85% above the atmosphere due to higher ultraviolet content).
These three equations indicate the possibility of a natural resonant condition existing between the curvature of space at the Sun's surface and a subsequent unification between gravity and the quantum physics of the hydrogen atoms of which the surface is composed. Clearly, the astrophysical parameters of the Sun were not freely determined at some point in the past, as might be expected if it had formed from a collapsing primordial solar nebula.
Even though we don't understand how such an alternative theory can be constructed, it should make more sense than simply imagining our Sun to be some arbitrary gravitationally-bound fusion reactor which happened to be suitable for life as we know it. Also, the anthropic principle - that by the fact of our existence the special parameters of the Sun in our own solar system are inevitable - doesn't work in this case. All three equations match pure physical constants to each other, and so require coincidences of such vital meaning that we can now glimpse unification at work: not only between the quantum and astrophysical parameters themselves, but also between these and the beauty of sunshine, which enlivens our conscious awareness of reality.
17 Jun 2005
Giovanelli, Ronald; "Secrets of the Sun" (C.U.P., Cambridge, 1984)