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Space Science

Cause of Aurora Borealis Confirmed 172

Posted by Zonk
from the it's-not-eskimo-ghosts-more's-the-pity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There are reports that satellites have aided scientists in confirming why the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) exists. 'New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun. The energy is then abruptly released in the form of a shimmering display of lights.'"
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Cause of Aurora Borealis Confirmed

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  • by pln2bz (449850) * on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:36PM (#21693160)
    The interesting new information is actually the following:

    "THEMIS encountered its first magnetic rope on May 20, 2007," says Sibeck. "It was very large, about as wide as Earth, and located approximately 40,000 miles above Earth's surface in a region called the magnetopause." The magnetopause is where the solar wind and Earth's magnetic field meet and push against one another like sumo wrestlers locked in combat. There, the rope formed and unraveled in just a few minutes, providing a brief but significant conduit for solar wind energy. Other ropes quickly followed: "They seem to occur all the time," says Sibeck.

    What happens within the laboratory with *electrical* plasmas is that the plasma will tend to form filaments of charged particles. It is a natural state of the plasma. Furthermore, multiple filaments will tend to possess long-range attraction and short-range repulsion with one another. In other words, they will twist around one another without fully combining. This can be observed by any layperson by looking closely at the point where your novelty plasma globe's filaments touch the glass. What appears as one filament from a distance is in fact two filaments twisting around one another like a rope that unwind with contact to glass. This roped structure within the laboratory constitutes a flow of charged particles, and as those charged particles move across the rope in response to voltage potentials, this flow of charged particles will in turn create helical magnetic fields around the filaments. Maxwell's Equations demand it.

    The observation of a roped magnetic structure connecting the Sun and Earth is extremely important because we know from our laboratory experiences with plasmas that rope-like structures occur when the plasma is electrical. I'm very curious what the response will be from the astrophysical community about this *structure*. Will they argue that the similarity in morphologies is actually coincidental?

    If so, somebody should share the talking points with NASA, because they appear to be off-message ...

    From http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/themis/auroras/northern_lights.html [nasa.gov]:

    "THEMIS also has observed a number of small explosions in Earth's magnetic bow shock. "The bow shock is like the bow wave in front of a boat," explained Sibeck. "It is where the solar wind first feels the effects of Earth's magnetic field. Sometimes a burst of electrical current within the solar wind will hit the bow shock and--Bang! We get an explosion."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Kagura (843695)
      So to sum up your entire post for those that come after me, you are saying "electric universe rules".
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by pln2bz (449850) *
        Every single person who doubts that this is more than coincidental can surely be excused for the sole reason that the implications are kind of hard to get a full handle on. It's really kind of shocking. But, it's important that people be aware of the possibility of Birkeland Currents in space, and even more, I think perhaps people should just accept that there is a distinct possibility that we just live in interesting times.
        • by Shining Celebi (853093) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:27AM (#21693582) Homepage

          Every single person who doubts that this is more than coincidental can surely be excused for the sole reason that the implications are kind of hard to get a full handle on. It's really kind of shocking.

          Why yes, I suppose it would be.

          • by mgmirkin (1203064)
            True, the implications are as vast as the galaxy, nay, the universe.

            Shocking, indeed! Very amusing! 8^)

            Cheers, ~Michael Gmirkin
        • by mollymoo (202721) *
          Hmm. Modded down for mentioning plasma cosmology. A similar thing happens on Wikipedia. I find the vigour with which plasma cosmology (small p,small s) is shouted down rather worrying. And it is almost always merely shouted down, I rarely see scientific arguments used against it, which is more than can be said for total bullshit like creationism. I'm not saying I believe everything proponents of Plasma Cosmology (big p, big s) have to say, just that the debate doesn't semm to be in the best traditions of sc
          • I'd say that problem is that it's approached as a single model, whereas if you in fact look at normal cosmology, all these things are already taken into account. The explanation of the Aurora has been known for years, this is just some small fine detail confirmation. Also, it's hard to talk about terms in electrical engineering when cosmological currents are often relativistic and over vast differences, making the speed of light even more important - so it's better in some ways to discuss exactly what the
        • I have no idea how you got modded troll there. I'm guessing it's from your talking about people expecting this is coincidental, which they then relate to you somehow talking about God and then want to ruin your karma. Teehee. Anyway, you forgot to say FRIST TOSP!!! up there :o
      • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

        by GreenLED (1202039)
        To sum up the whole story, the
        universe is incredibly fascinating.
        It's hard to believe all of this stuff
        could possibly be made of of chance.

        A magnetic rope, wow.
        • So they're finally sure it's not just some kids with flashlights?
          • by mgmirkin (1203064)
            Maybe a 30 kV [google.com] flashlight (pumping 650,000 amps into the arctic)?

            Heck of a light show! Might burn out the bulb, tho'.

            Cheers,
            ~Michael Gmirkin
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by GreenLED (1202039)
            We're so smart, it took us, oh...
            "millions" of years to figure this
            out. Hmmm, if you figure that
            the earth has been around for
            6,000 years, that actually puts
            us in a better "light" -- we must
            be pretty stupid. I wonder how
            much longer it will take to figure
            out that it's impossible to throw
            a boat-load of random plane
            parts on a tarmark, come back
            5 billion years later and find out
            "It's A Plane!!!!!!" Om my goodness!

            Even video gamers realize you have
            to program a game before you can
            have fun playing it. :)
            • by phulegart (997083)
              You might be serious, you might be trolling. If you meant any of what you said, you really should pay attention to what you want to say before it spills out.

              "We're so smart, it took us, oh...
              "millions" of years to figure this
              out."

              Humans haven't been here on the planet for millions of years. If you believe that we evolved, it's been a couple of hundred thousand years at best. There is evidence we are still examining however, of creatures that did exist millions of years ago. Large, reptilian/avian creat
            • Why can't you
              seem to utilize
              more that 20%
              of your screen width?
              It is a little
              annoying to read.
      • by mgmirkin (1203064) on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:00AM (#21694582) Journal

        "So to sum up your entire post for those that come after me, you are saying "electric universe rules"." -Kagura

        No, I think that what he's saying is something to the effect that this shouldn't be news to anybody, but the fact that it is happens to be disheartening.

        Specifically, Kristian Birkeland predicted this in his book Norwegian Aurora Polaris Expedition [live.com] (section 2, I believe).

        Specifically, if one references the images contained in the book, things become clear quite quickly:
        Chapter VI: On Possible Electric Phenomena in Solar Systems and Nebulae [plasma-universe.com]

        Take, for instance, an extreme case of his terella in operation:
        Figure 259 [plasma-universe.com]

        How do you like them "flux ropes?"

        This image hows the terella operating in a mode that exposes the electrical currents for what they are. In this shot, the currents are in "arc mode" (akin to sparks or lightning). Whereas the auroras around Earth are akin to a "glow mode" discharge. Birkeland currents in interplanetary space are a "dark mode" discharge (IE, not glowing, but still slowly transferring electric charges in a "dark" current, much like an electrical wire, but in this case a plasma filament). Look it up. Standard plasma physics.

        In essence, the solar system can be likened to a virtual "plasma globe." In the "plasma globe" model of the solar system, the sun is the central electrode. The planets are akin to people pressing their fingers to the outer glass because it's cool to watch the filaments connect to the spot you touch. The "magnetic flux ropes" are akin to the plasma filaments connecting the central electrode to the outer glass where fingers touch. The "magnetic flux ropes" are a byproduct of the electrical current (flow of charged particles) connecting the sun to the Earth.

        Here's a colorized version of a plasma globe I made for reference:
        Plasma globe "sun" [google.com]

        So, yeah, it's something like that [google.com].

        I really wish it would let me put images in this thing. Ohh well, I said it better over on BAUT anyway (assuming they don't immediately MOD it out of existence, for being presumptuous enough to mention astronomers' apparent blindspot regarding electricity in space).

        Did I forget to mention NASA's own rather candid admission that there's an electrical link between the sun and the Earth? "Flux rope" pumps 650,000 Amp current into the arctic! (30 kV battery in space) [google.com] (Noted on this page: Multimedia for the Press Event for THEMIS [nasa.gov].)

        In all, what Pln2bz says is quite sage, and I suggest that we listen to him... Rather carefully. He may not be quite as "insane" as some think. It's quite necessary to review the argument based on its merits, and see where it leads. Might just turn science on its ear.

        After all, we've just re-learned that Birkeland currents power the magnetosphere. This was confirmed in t he 60s / 70s when we started shooting satellites into space, and it was predicted in the 1900s (appx 1902-1903 was when Birkeland went north; 1908 was when he published Norewgian Aurora Polaris Expedition, to great acclaim pretty much everywhere, except England and America, where an electrically neutral/sterile cosmology had already taken hold, unfortunately, setting us back a

        • Ok. Soooo, I'm not sure where this is really going. Of course there they are "electrical" in nature because they are charged particles (so there will be potential) and are moving (so current, as in electric current). But then I'm kind of a lay person, so I can't really spot if this thread started as one of the crazies post or actually the "Real Thing".

          For example, the crazies are saying that "all problems" and "all everything" is caused by electrical nature. That our solar system is more electrical than any
        • I'm not a physicist or electrical engineer. But from what I know about circuits and the flow of electrical currents through them, if you isolate any element of the circuit for analysis you will see a flow of electrons in one end and out the other. But don't both protons and electrons flow away from the sun in all directions? I don't know of any evidence of an electron flow toward the sun, let alone an inflow with energy equal to the huge energy of all solar phenomena (radiation + solar wind). Yet if the sun
    • by jnik (1733)
      What are you saying? What, to you, distinguishes an "electrical" plasma from any other type of plasma? (What other types do you assert exist?) The magnetic connection between the Earth and the Sun is not a new idea; it was first seriously proposed by Dungey in 1961 and has survived some very rigourous testing. What is "off-message"? The existence of large-scale currents in space? Those have been accepted for decades at least--otherwise there can't be a magnetopause. Field aligned currents? Again, long esta
      • by pln2bz (449850) *
        Do you agree that these are Birkeland Currents?

        Also, out of curiosity, what do you believe is the mechanism for the acceleration of the solar wind? Why does it continue to accelerate even as it passes the planets?
        • by jnik (1733)
          I think Gene Parker [harvard.edu] got the solar wind about right. Hydrodynamics gets a lot of plasma behaviour about right. I recall Cravens [amazon.com] has a pretty good treatment of the derivation.

          "these are Birkeland Currents?" Which are? I don't know exactly what Dr. Sibeck's quote is referencing, so I'm not going to comment on that. But as I've said, field aligned currents are hardly a controversial matter. Two [harvard.edu] recent [harvard.edu] JGR publications. And here's a review paper [harvard.edu].

          • by pln2bz (449850) *

            "these are Birkeland Currents?" Which are?

            Any observation of a rope-like magnetic plasma structure, based upon laboratory plasma physics, is a legitimate candidate for a Birkeland Current. But this is somewhat semantical. I think the thing that a lot of EU Theory advocates would like to hear explained (and that somebody else on the forum hinted at), are the following questions:

            If it is now normal to refer to structures within our solar system as electrical currents, then where does the charge differential

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mgmirkin (1203064)
        Okay then...

        Here's a question for the astrophsycists, if they know of "things electric" (such as the Birkeland currents powering the auroras), has anyone drawn out the solar electric circuit(s)? If so, where are they diagrammed (can you point me to them, I'd love to see them, as they're never discussed in public; so far as I know)?

        If not, why not. If astrophysicists realize this is essentially an electrical engineering problem, why has it not been diagrammed as such and "solved," so to speak? Why do s
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by jnik (1733)
          If astrophysicists realize this is essentially an electrical engineering problem, why has it not been diagrammed as such

          Because it isn't essentially an electrical engineering problem. Fluid dynamics plays a major role. "Winds," "rains," and "shocks" are all fundamentally fluid dynamics concepts. BTW, this isn't an astrophysics field...we're space physicists. The lines are blurry--one space physicist in our department is doing heliospheric research, and one astrophysicist does a lot of work on magnetic proc

    • by tjstork (137384)
      Well, does it follow that there might be climate implications from um, having this giant sun literally plugged into the earth? It seems to me that having an electrical current running between two giant celestial bodies ought to have some impact in terms of climate.
      • by mgmirkin (1203064)
        You'd think so, wouldn't you?

        Do they figure in the giant "battery in space [google.com]," when talking about climate forcings?

        They probably just missed the memo...? It's a bad habit, skipping the staff meetings where they talk about how the solar system is like a giant plasma globe [google.com], I know.

        C'est la vie!

        Cheers,
        ~Michael Gmirkin
      • by jnik (1733)
        What's great about science is we can figure this stuff out! Take a look at CDAWeb [nasa.gov]. I'm using the OMNI dataset based on the WIND spacecraft, and per rules of the road I should acknowledge the data providers: J.H. King, N. Papatashvilli of Perot Sys, NASA/Goddard spaceflight center, and CDAweb. I'm using 3 October 2006, 1000UT-1200UT for no particular reason, just pulled it out of my hat. The data for this time period show a solar wind speed of about 400km/s, density of 5/cc (that's almost all protons, BTW, o
    • by afidel (530433)
      Actually I kind this kind of interesting, the explanation I had always heard was that a wave of charged particles boiled off of a sunspot and that it was electrical charge of that wavefront collapsing some field lines and streaming down the magnetic holes at the poles. Knowing that there is actually a continuous event from the sun to the earth is an interesting realization for me.
    • by falconcy (1082517)
      Isn't this old information? AFAIK the ESA found most of this on the Cluster II missions http://clusterlaunch.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=8 [esa.int] Funny how NASA seems to get a monopoly on discovering things, even if the do find out later ;-)
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by aichpvee (631243)
      I thought it was Dust...
    • by arkhan_jg (618674)
      "It also fits well the model of the sun being a *source* of the solar
      wind plasma, which will stretch out the magnetic field as seen. A nice
      confirmation of the standard theory. However, if the sun is the focus
      of an electrical discharge, then the solar wind should be in-bound
      instead of out-bound. Or, more precisely, an electric current should be
      in-bound. But such is not the case; protons and electrons both flee the
      sun rapidly in all directions, consistent with a thermally driven wind,
      and inconsistent with an
  • Obviously (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr Bubble (14652) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:38PM (#21693182)
    it's dust.
    • by Walt Dismal (534799) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:49PM (#21693280)
      You've RUINED my Christmas. I always thought it was Santa who caused the lights.

      Sincerely,

      Billy Widget, Age 8, Cleveland Ohio

      P.S. I bet you're going to tell me next that there is no Easter Bunny, storks don't deliver babies, and Microsoft sells flawless software. I'm not THAT dumb.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by zolaar (764683)
        Did you ever stop to think that, maybe, Santa made the Sun? When Santa and the Y'ter Bunny (having returned to Santa seeking guidance from its "creator") merged consciousnesses and ascended to a higher plane of existence?

        As for your other assertions, I'll leave you with this: weiners make more than just pee-pee; Microsoft, on the other hand, doesn't.
    • By "dust," he means the mysterious substance that drives the powers-that-be of Phillip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" trilogy to distraction. And it's the cause of the Northern Lights in that alternate universe.

      The first book of the trilogy -- known as "The Golden Compass" in the U.S. and "The Northern Lights" in Britain -- opened in theaters last week.
      • by burndive (855848)
        The books are passable. Not great literature by any measure, but a fun read. The movie was horribly disappointing.
      • by gravis777 (123605)
        I was waiting for someone to say this. However, it should be pointed out that in "His Dark Materials" (of which the first book, The Golden Compass is currently in the theater), "Dust" is not the same thing as "dust". Not only is it a cause of the Northern Lights, but its also an elementary particle. As such, the pun is "The cause of the Northern Lights comes from a stream of charged particles, or 'Dust' from the sun...."

        From wikipedia.org

        Dust (His Dark Materials)
        From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
        Jump to: navigation, search
        Dust in Philip Pullman's trilogy of novels His Dark Materials is a fictional form of dark matter, an elementary particle that is of fundamental importance to the novels. Dust is invisible to the human eye and cannot be seen without the use of special instruments such as the The Amber Spyglass or a special film. However, while humans cannot see dust without the use of outside devices, creatures such as the mulefa are able to see dust with their own eyes.

        Unlike ordinary particles, Dust is conscious. It falls from the sky and is attracted to people (especially adults) and objects made by people. This makes it of great interest to the Church, which believes that it may be the physical manifestation of Original Sin. We later learn that Dust actually confers consciousness, knowledge and wisdom, and that Dust is formed when matter becomes conscious. This allows creatures who have the ability to see dust to identify other sentient and intelligent creatures. An example of this is when the mulefa are able to distinguish Mary Malone as an intelligent being, because of the dust surrounding her, when compared to the other animals in the mulefa's world.

        It is Dust that provides the answers given by the alethiometer, the I Ching system of divination and also the computer that Dr Mary Malone creates in order to communicate directly with these particles.

        Dust has various names among the various different worlds within the trilogy. Dust was previously known (in Lyra Belacqua's universe) as Rusakov particles after their discoverer, Boris Mikhailovitch Rusakov. It is known also as Shadows in our world (Pullman relates Dust to Dark Matter), and the mulefa's word sraf accompanied by a leftward flick of the trunk (or arm for humans).

        Angels, including The Authority, are formed when Dust condenses, but they are not in reality the human-like figures they appear to be.

      • by soliptic (665417)

        The first book of the trilogy -- known as "The Golden Compass" in the U.S. and "The Northern Lights" in Britain -- opened in theaters last week.

        And if your IQ is over 60, for the love of God don't go and see it.

        :: POTENTIAL VERY SLIGHT SPOILERS ::

        (I will avoid saying anything at all specific about the plot, but in case you're utterly paranoid about spoilerism, I thought I'd give you a warning anyway)



        Hollywood at its patronising, intelligence-insulting worst. Endless needless exposition (charac

  • It's TWUE! (Score:4, Funny)

    by interiot (50685) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:46PM (#21693252) Homepage
    I'm sure the electric universe guys [wired.com] will have a field day [thunderbolts.info] with this...
    • by deft (253558) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:19AM (#21693534) Homepage
      "I'm sure the electric universe guys will have a field day with this..."

      I'd say they will have a magnetic field day with this one.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm sure they will, meanwhile we'll be doing actual experiments and using wonderful things called "equations"
    • by Jekler (626699)
      On a serious note, I'm surprised the scientific community hasn't been faster to adopt the "electric universe" theories. It really does seem to be another valuable piece of the physics puzzle, it's a shame that it's mostly being ignored, even as new evidence validates many of the theories on a consistent basis. I guess it's just that scientists are scared that it replaces their existing knowledge rather than extending it.
      • On a serious note, I'm surprised the scientific community hasn't been faster to adopt the "electric universe" theories.

        I think the main problem there is that, well... 'electric universe' attracts an awful lot of loonies, who then give the whole concept a very bad reputation. Maybe there are some electromagnetic interactions being overlooked, but the 'electric universe' crowd are pushing for the complete rewriting of the entirety of astronomy based on not very much.

      • by arkhan_jg (618674)
        Actually, the evidence and observations often directly contradict the electric universe theories, and they just ignore the studies they don't like - then claim that standard model astrophysicists are ignoring the electro- side of electromagnetism, as seen upthread.

        No true scientist is afraid of being proved wrong, they embrace it and use it to improve their work. Electric Universe proponents rarely provide ways for their theories to be falsified, and when what should be there according to their theories isn
  • What? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jethro (14165) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:48PM (#21693262) Homepage
    I thought it was already well established that the aurora was caused by Santa's reindeer throwing up.
  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Xinef Jyinaer (1044268) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:49PM (#21693274)
    Aurora Borealis? At this time of year? At this time of day? In this part of the country? Localized entirely within your kitchen?
  • There are reports that satellites have aided scientists in confirming why the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) exists. 'New data from NASA's Themis mission, a quintet of satellites launched this winter, found the energy comes from a stream of charged particles from the sun flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields connecting Earth's upper atmosphere to the sun.

    That's not true at all. It happens when you're cooking steamed hams, and your kitchen catches on fire.
  • by commisaro (1007549) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:51PM (#21693300) Homepage
    What about the "Intelligent Twinkling" explanation? Scientists seem completely unwilling to even CONSIDER this possibility!
  • by nofrak (889021) on Thursday December 13, 2007 @11:52PM (#21693318) Homepage
    We still know what we already knew. Tonight I can finally sleep easy!
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      That doesn't mean that what we know now is true though. The aurora could also be a conspiracy against us. Because of this, I'm afraid you'll have to give up a few human rights, such as going outdoors alone when there is one being active. The major news networks will air a press conference detailing these new potentially dangerous theories soon. Thanks for your cooperation.
  • "Dust" might be a good tag for this, given all the Golden Compass hullabaloo.
  • Okay... (Score:1, Redundant)

    by alshithead (981606)
    Well that's comforting. We've confirmed a theory that was already pretty well accepted as being fact.

    Next...?

    Global climate change?
    Evolution?
    Silent but deadly versus loud and fruity?

    Move on folks, nothing to see here.
    • Re:Okay... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:02AM (#21693412)
      "We've confirmed a theory that was already pretty well accepted as being fact."

      Way to understate the importance of confirming theories. Heh.
      • "Way to understate the importance of confirming theories. Heh."

        Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it? Such as spontaneous generation, perhaps? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis [wikipedia.org]

        I'm not sure the importance of this "confirmation" ranks as front page news. Honestly, I'd much rather see some, any theory of our current climate changes proven. At least then we might be able to start effectively making some changes. For that matter, proving the theory of cold fus
        • "I'm not sure the importance of this "confirmation" ranks as front page news. Honestly, I'd much rather see some, any theory of our current climate changes proven. At least then we might be able to start effectively making some changes. For that matter, proving the theory of cold fusion would go a long way to improving our lives."

          Hey, that's fine. But the guys working on the aurora aren't the same guys working on cold fusion. It's like throwing aerospace engineers into cancer research. We don't focus our
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by TapeCutter (624760)
          "Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it?"

          Strike two, equate science and proof again and your outta here!

          Climate change: Did you fall for the "science has nothing to do with consenus" meme?

          Cold fusion: Rejected as a worthwhile inquiry since after a lot of attempts nobody has been able to confirm the original finding.
          • OT: Climate Change (Score:3, Insightful)

            by zippthorne (748122)
            Climate Change "No Consensus": That is a pretty bad meme. Obviously, lay people have little more to go on that the "consensus" of the body of work. Unfortunately, the consensus wrt Climate Change formed way before the measurements were sufficient to really say anything, and became entangled in political discourse as a result. (or maybe as the cause)

            Either way, it is now extremely difficult to separate the good science from the bad, especially for lay people, as the consensus in that field was tainted. E
            • I applaude your appeal to skeptisim, this is exactly why the IPCC was formed and with 20/20 hindsight the IPCC "alarmists" look decidedly conservative (re: Artic ice in particular). There has been sufficient eveidence to be concerned since at least the start of the Kyoto negotiations. The papers talk about wet feet and rarely mention crop failures, collapsed fisheries or the refugee crisis that would occur should the Hymalaian[sic] glaciers shrink signifigantly.

              I urge you to use skepticisim to figure out
              • How could you miss this,

                Many are using the "Well, even if we're not sure, don't you think it would be a good idea to take action just in case?" argument and then proposing action that would be akin to starting a course of radical chemotherapy on the advice of a team of chiropractors.

                The "profit" is in not having to significantly change your lifestyle. In some cases it means inconvenience, or doing without some fun things in order to pay for needful things, but in other cases it means reducing the effective

          • "Climate change: Did you fall for the "science has nothing to do with consenus" meme? "

            I haven't fallen for anything. My biggest concern is the CO2 saturation of the oceans reaching the point where organisms can't create the shells and other exoskeletons they need for survival. I expect that to cause an almost complete collapse of ocean ecosystems.
            • My biggest concern is that the general public often don't know how to sort the shit from the clay in scientific matters, you have obviously done your research.
        • Well, of course no "proven" theory has later been found to wrong either has it?

          fail. it isn't that our theories are "perfect" or even "correct" as they are accurate in explaining what we are actually seeing. most of the real science deals with actually doing experiments and seeing if they do or do not confirm what your theories predict. If by experiment we find something that doesn't match up with current theory, we have two choices: first, modify said theory incorporating any new data- which is what ha

  • What about the aurora australis? For those that don't know, the aurora australis is the aurora borealis' southern counterpart.
    • by RuBLed (995686)
      Aurora australis is the color of the big elephant, totally unrelated to borealis in every aspect...

      (Seriously, if it is a counterpart then it should be the same, or at least a cheap knockoff :D)
  • Yep, we were right. Told you so.
  • Nonsense. (Score:4, Funny)

    by Moofie (22272) <lee.ringofsaturn@com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @12:16AM (#21693512) Homepage
    It's Dust.

    Where's MY Panserbjørne?
  • by 427_ci_505 (1009677) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:06AM (#21693868)
    We've always hypothesized this, but just got evidence/confirmation?

    Or am I misinterpreting it here?

    (I was about to tag this as being very old news before this).
    • From what I understood, we just have a new and better confirmation. But a small step towards knowledge is still a good one.
  • Uhmmm i think I learned that in like 6th grade science class and that was like in 1969!

    You call this news!?

    • Ooh, yeesh... buddy, hate to be the one to break it to you... "science" class got cut from your kids' school's budget back about... well, about two or three years after the Beijing Wall came down and Germany finally gave up Communalism in favor of Christianity...

      Yeah, I know, bummer.

      Would it make you feel better to know that, once a week, we show the kids our HD-DVDs of "Smarter Than A 5th Grader - Season 1"? We feel that seeing another child succeed on television helps develop a child's positive self-imag
      • by FlyingGuy (989135)

        Damn this is one of those rare occasions when I want to be able to MOD the thread I am participating in. Oh hell its not that rare, but I would MOD your post funny as hell, if it were not so sadly true.

        Thankfully most of my brain cells survived my misspent youth and I can teach my kid science, since that does not seem to be a priority of our educational system these days. But then again /sarcasm=on we Do need to spend more money on football and cultural sensitivity. /sarcasm=off

        Fucking Dr. Spock anyway

  • Happy Birthday (Score:2, Interesting)

    by plasmana (984377)
    Happy Birthday Kristian Birkeland. 140 years old today! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birkeland_current [wikipedia.org]
  • lyrics (Score:3, Funny)

    by grayNOISEeffect (911023) on Friday December 14, 2007 @01:48AM (#21694138)
    "flowing like a current through twisted bundles of magnetic fields"

    Aren't those the lyrics to some 90s trance song?
  • it's Santa Clause's doing! :)
  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Friday December 14, 2007 @03:06AM (#21694614)

    An excellent example of how science is supposed to get done.

    We think we know. We're pretty sure we know. We're damned sure we know and nobody's even close to providing a better explanation. Alright.....this is how it is; take it to the bank. (But we'll still give you a hearing if you have convincing proof something else is happening. You'd better have a testable hypothesis, though).

    The method isn't perfect, but it spits out right answers more often than anything else.

  • A UFO blogger recently obtained the DoD's paper on HAARP through the Freedom of Information Act. Among its uses are, precipitating particles out of the aurora in order to protect satellites during solar storms, and manipulation the aurora to turn it into essentially a long wave radio transmitter.

    IIRC, the story was on WIRED, possibly a WIRED blog page.

    You can take your tin foil hats off now. HAARP is harmless. If you don't believe this, please email targeting@OMCL.mil. We'll fix things for you.

    Signed,

    Your p

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