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Sunspot Activity Continues To Drop 435

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the see-spot-run dept.
slreboy writes "The sunspot cycle is behaving a little like the stock market. Just when you think it has hit bottom, it goes even lower. The year 2008 was a bear. There were no sunspots observed on 266 of the year's 366 days (73 percent). To find a year with more blank suns, you have to go all the way back to 1913, which had 311 spotless days. Prompted by these numbers, some observers suggested that the solar cycle had hit bottom in 2008. Maybe not. Sunspot counts for 2009 have dropped even lower. As of March 31st, there were no sunspots on 78 of the year's 90 days (87 percent)..."
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Sunspot Activity Continues To Drop

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:45AM (#27518257) Journal
    The Zeroth Law of Thermodynamics states that bodies in a system must remain in equilibrium. So if we're experiencing global warming where are we getting that energy from? It must be coming from somewhere?

    The answer, fellow scientists, is that we are stealing that energy from the Sun.

    Yes, my charts and ramblings reveal that our greenhouse gases are trapping sunlight ... sunlight that would return to the Sun and heat it back up causing sunspots. I am currently drafting a bill that will move sunspots to the endangered phenomena list. That same bill will introduce that list and hopefully this will be reason enough to form it unlike Senator Kerry's attempt to create the list when he saw Rosie O'Donnell exercising (or so he thought).

    Gentlemen, we must act now. There is no more time for debating and arguing. The sunspots are going away and without that, we may lose our natural magnetic storms and maybe even the precious Aurora Borealis. Our Northern Lights are in danger while you sit back here comfortably in your chairs. Today we are polluters in the hands of an angry environment tomorrow we may be dead. We have angered the environment and now we must face the wrath of the environment. Including, but not limited to, the loss of sunspots.

    I don't know about you but when I was a kid, we celebrated sunspots with our parents. Upwards we gazed directly into the sun, fueling the optometry industry. Yes, sunspots create jobs and foster growth. Do you want to share sunspot gazing with your children and their children? I know I do.

    But all is not lost. The environment is injured and may be weak enough for us to stop it before it kills us all. I propose a preemptive strike now while we still have time. We could sneak in special units disguised in ponchos and Birkenstock's with thermonuclear weapons that would devastate the environment and save us from certain death at its hands. China has already rendered the environment obsolete and it is our turn to follow suit. Gentlemen, the question today is not if we should deal a final blow to the environment but when.
  • by damburger (981828) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:46AM (#27518273)
    Better send a huge mushroom shaped spaceship to fire a bomb into it!
    • by janeuner (815461)

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_(2007_film) [wikipedia.org]:
      "The Sun has instead been "infected" with a Q-ball - a supersymmetric nucleus, left over from the Big Bang - that is disrupting the normal matter. The situation compells humanity to send a spacecraft to the Sun in 2050, the Icarus I, which carries a massive payload, an experimental nuclear bomb, intended to reignite the Sun."

      The part that makes the story completely unbelievable??? Humanity working together to fix something.

    • I advise that the astronauts be restricted to plastic cutlery, otherwise it could seriously ruin the potential for turning this whole idea into a decent sci-fi movie.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:47AM (#27518283) Journal
    It's stuff like this that makes me ask when will those neo-republicons take global warming seriously??? There's carbon filling up everywhere, so much the sun is losing her spots, and we just sit here and do nothing about it!!!! We need more diamonds!!!! That will get rid of the carbon!! Obama will fix it. He'll give a cadillacic converter to every car, we'll be converting carbon to diamonds every day as we drive. Diamonds are the solution!!!
  • 2012 (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by mc1138 (718275)
    The sun just needs to build up its reserve power before catastrophically attack the Earth in a fury of solar activity in 2012!
    • by furby076 (1461805)
      If Bush was around we would have started a pre-emptive strike against this foreign nation with WMDs.
  • I wonder.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Pvt_Ryan (1102363) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:52AM (#27518383)
    Is this caused by global warming?

    Should we implement a green tax in order to help the sun get its spots back?

    On the other hand maybe the sun has discoved clearasil..
  • Here we go... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:54AM (#27518425) Homepage Journal

    1) The Sun does effect global temperature
    2) It's effects are pretty immediate
    3) The Global Warming Trend does not follow the Sun activities close enough for it to be the cause of the trend.
    4) The only thing we know of at this time that could be causing this global warming trend is CO2

    5)We are talking about the release of trillions of tons of CO2 that has been buried for millions of years.

    6) If we keep increasing will will make the planet uninhabitable by us.

    7) We have workable solutions to this right now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hoi Polloi (522990)

      But how can I tie this to a poticial ideology? I hate fact based science.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:02AM (#27518541) Homepage Journal

        Facts do have a liberal bias.

        • by kabocox (199019)

          Facts do have a liberal bias.

          Nah, facts have a true old school reactionary conservative bias. We just don't have many of those now a days.
          The truth is everyone understands that they want to take our our stuff to give to others. Conservatives just want enough power to defend themselves from that they, and to be truly sustainable so that they can ignore everyone else.

    • by jav1231 (539129)
      Okay, there's one theory.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Pharmboy (216950)

      I thought the earth has actually been getting cooler since 2004. I also thought the earth constantly went through cycles of heating and cooling. What we do does affect the planet, by all means. How MUCH it is affecting is still very much up for debate.

      Me, I like better fuel economy standards and tighter restrictions on discharges into lakes and streams, mainly because I breathe air and drink water. Unfortunately, the environment is now a tool for getting funding and to get that funding, you must agree w

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)

        You should pay more for your history.

      • Re:Here we go... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:17AM (#27518781)

        I'm sure that back in the 1600s, you had to agree that the earth was flat to get funding as well.

        The best science that money can buy isn't always the best science.

        Actually, no. If at any point in recorded history, you proposed that the earth was flat, the overwhelming majority of people thought you were a nutjob.
        The idea that Columbus' opponents thought the earth was flat was made up by supporters' of Darwin in the 1800's to belittle their opposition (not all of which was religious).
        Columbus' opposition said that if the diameter of the earth was what they calculated it to be (which it turns out was a reasonable approximation of the actual diameter of the earth), Columbus and his crewmen would run out of fresh water before they reached East Asia. Columbus, using his own calculations, said the earth isn't that big. It turns out that Columbus got lucky, because neither side was aware that there was another land mass between Europe and Asia (there is reason to believe that there were Europeans who did know, but that is speculation).

        • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

          Please provide reputable, verifiable evidence of the information in your post, preferably from multiple sources.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Starker_Kull (896770)
            Actually, I realized you probably were questioning the first part of parents' assertions more than the last:

            If at any point in recorded history, you proposed that the earth was flat, the overwhelming majority of people thought you were a nutjob.

            Yeah, that's a bit more questionable, isn't it? There has been casually observable evidence for the Earth's roundness in certain places (shorelines, where one has an opportunity to see a ship vanish over the horizion hull first, rather than just get too small to s

      • Re:Here we go... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by saforrest (184929) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:37AM (#27519081) Homepage Journal

        I thought the earth has actually been getting cooler since 2004. I also thought the earth constantly went through cycles of heating and cooling. What we do does affect the planet, by all means. How MUCH it is affecting is still very much up for debate.

        Don't confuse speed with position. While 2008 was the coldest year since 2000, it is still the ninth warmest year since 1880 [xinhuanet.com]. Global warming theories do not require a strictly increasing average global temperature over time.

      • discharges into lakes and streams

        You might want to get that checked out...

    • Re:Here we go... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by geoffrobinson (109879) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:08AM (#27518637) Homepage

      2) Oceans operate on different time scales, no? So is "pretty immediate" geological time or something or a day or so?

      3) Could be problems with this point based on 2. And by "trend" what are we talking about. There doesn't seem to be much of an upward trend lately. So if you are thinking the last couple of years have been on an upward trend, that's wrong. If you expand that timeline, we may still be on an upward trend.

      4) "The only thing we know"

      Given the lack of ability to put past weather information in a predictive model and get accurate results, I would say we don't know much at all.

      My climate scientist friend I once spoke to almost 10 years ago now was more skeptical. Even if C02 does what you say, are there feedback loops that mitigate the warming? Cloud cover, stuff like that. We don't know.

      6) You don't know 6 is true at all.

      7) While I remain skeptical of global warming, I want to get off foreign oil in general. So may I propose a workable solution that many environmentalists don't like: nuclear power. Cut the red tape and streamline the process.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by plague3106 (71849)

        7) While I remain skeptical of global warming, I want to get off foreign oil in general. So may I propose a workable solution that many environmentalists don't like: nuclear power. Cut the red tape and streamline the process.

        Which is ironic, because it's one of the most environmentally friendly means to generate power we have. The waste is well contained, and if we built newer reactors we wouldn't have to worry about waste at all.

      • Yeaaa! NUCULAR! I love it! =D
      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        Even if C02 does what you say, are there feedback loops that mitigate the warming? Cloud cover, stuff like that. We don't know.

        Exactly... we don't know. We're modifying our atmosphere and we don't know what it will do. All the reputable science indicates it's either a little bad or VERY VERY bad.

        Of course those who are making money from this will tell you it's all hokum... but the problem is that by the time we actually understand what all this CO2 (and others) is doing we will be about 50 years too late to do anything about it.

      • There are only weather forecasters. Climate science is not science, that would require testability and we don't have anything to test with. When weather forecasters start chucking millions of tonnes of sulphate aerosols (or whatever) into the atmosphere, then it will be science.

         

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ral8158 (947954)

          Um, studies, the creators of correlation, are a hugely important part of science. They can't show causation like experiments, but they can still be used to make predictions, just like theories resulting from experiments. Climate science is just as much a science as psychology, sociology, biology, and astronomy. (I'd like to see you do an experiment to figure out planetary motion)

    • by squoozer (730327)

      I think you were correct right up to 7. Most of the alternatives aren't as good as what we have right now. There is no realistic alternative to the car and all the alternatives to electricity generation are very expensive or unreliable. Space heating is also a serious problem.

      Converting to a very low or zero carbon world would involve rebuilding just about every home, office block and factory as well as throwing away and remaking every car. That isn't going to happen any time soon. The expense would make th

    • by ArcherB (796902) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:20AM (#27518821) Journal

      You are missing a whole bunch of ~'s

    • Don't overstate the case. It would make the planet less live-able in certain areas (principally by being underwater) and make other areas much more live-able for humans. The problem is the dislocation (which would likely happen over multiple generations) not any threat to the species.

    • by PPH (736903)

      6) If we keep increasing will will make the planet uninhabitable by us.

      So, problem solved. Nobody left to burn fossil fuels. The planet's ecosystem recovers and the cockroaches, the proper inheritors of the planet continue on. Just like they did prior to the human infestation.

    • by Troed (102527)

      1) correct

      2) some, and some are delayed (trade winds, ocean currents, heat redistribution)

      3) see 2 - then the correlation is incredibly high ( http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/25/warming-trend-pdo-and-solar-correlate-better-than-co2/ [wattsupwiththat.com] )

      4) absolutely no. on the contrary, the correlation for CO2 models and observed climate over the last decade are next to nil

      5) Percentages of percentages

      6) absolutely no

      7) absolutely no

    • by khallow (566160)

      6) If we keep increasing will will make the planet uninhabitable by us.

      Even if we don't, the planet will become uninhabitable. And it will take about the same length of time on the order of hundreds of millions to a billion years. I wonder where hysterical crap like this comes from? It's like the "Iraq caused 911" nonsense that ran through the US a few years ago. Nobody said it or even seriously implied it. Yet somehow there was a bunch of people believing it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tugboat0902 (1339165)
      It's strange, but I was recently looking at some ice core CO2 data and noticed that CO2 levels have been so much higher in the past during periods when global temperature was lower than it is now.

      "The Carboniferous Period and the Ordovician Period were the only geological periods during the Paleozoic Era when global temperatures were as low as they are today. To the consternation of global warming proponents, the Late Ordovician Period was also an Ice Age while at the same time CO2 concentrations then w
    • by scorp1us (235526)

      1) The Sun does effect global temperature
      2) It's effects are pretty immediate
      3) The Global Warming Trend does not follow the Sun activities close enough for it to be the cause of the trend.
      4) The only thing we know of at this time that could be causing this global warming trend is CO2

      5)We are talking about the release of trillions of tons of CO2 that has been buried for millions of years.

      6) If we keep increasing will will make the planet uninhabitable by us.

      7) We have workable solutions to this right now.

      3. is incorrect. While we may get the light in terms of minutes from its departure from our heavenly body, the energy released when it gets here is distributed and absorbed. Then it is up to a whole other set of processes to get it back out. It may go into heating the atmosphere. it may heat the oceans, it may provide energy to a plant for photosynthesis. So that energy may be radiated back out immediately, or may be deferred until night time, where it is released again. Or it can be part of a plant for mi

  • why (Score:3, Informative)

    by esocid (946821) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:55AM (#27518451) Journal
    is it taking editors the 2nd time around [slashdot.org] to post these stories.
    /rant

    While it may not be time to panic, there are some other startling signs
    1. Measurements by the Ulysses spacecraft reveal a 20 percent drop in solar wind pressure since the mid-1990sâ"the lowest point since such measurements began in the 1960s.
    2. Careful measurements by several NASA spacecraft have also shown that the sun's brightness has dimmed by 0.02 percent at visible wavelengths and a whopping 6 percent at extreme UV wavelengths since the solar minimum of 1996.
    3. Finally, radio telescopes are recording the dimmest "radio sun" since 1955.

    At this point there's nothing really we can do, but it may need an explanation as to why it has hit such a low, and when the below-average maximum will occur (supposedly in 2012).

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Links?
      The only study I am aware related to this has to do with light hitting the planet. In that study the light hitting the earth wasn't unchanged, just the light hitting the ground. This lead to the conclusion that both particulate matter and contrails were causing more light to be reflected. Actually slowing the effects of global warming, but not stopping it.

  • Great timing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Perl (142164) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @10:59AM (#27518497) Homepage

    I picked a good year to get licensed for ham radio. I sure get sick of hearing about how you can work Australia on a wet noodle during high Sunspot years. At least the low bands are reliable, but then again those bands require ginormous antennas. So as a consequence my house looks like some sort of martian communications test zone [qrz.com]. I think my neighbors fear me enough not to seriously ask what's going on.

  • The pendulum swings both ways, and I think that Sol may swing back with a fury from this sub solar minimum to an above level solar maximum. We may wind up with the predicted power problems and possibly airline flights having to fly lower than usual to reduce dosages to their pax.

    Then again, we don't really know our star very well and it is an older one, in the scope of things.

  • Plagiarism (Score:5, Informative)

    by momerath2003 (606823) * on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:02AM (#27518545) Journal

    Not only is the summary ripped from the linked article without quoting it, but the article is plagiarized in whole from ScienceDaily [sciencedaily.com]! I knew I'd seen it before this article, and this explains why. The blogger even hotlinked the image from science daily, wasting their bandwidth.

    The linked article in the summary should be adjusted to the original ScienceDaily article and the entire summary should be quoted from it rather than attributed to slreboy.

    • And furthermore, everyone should blacklist the blog in question (not that it would prevent the plagiarist from setting up another site).

      I'd even say that the submitter should be banned from submitting links.
    • Also, I suggest we all tag the article "plagiarized". I have.
  • Not now the sun is quiet.

    What this quiet time is doing is failing to pressure us into hardening the electrical grid against electromagnetic storm events. So in 5 or 10 years when we pull up out of this point we will all have electrical cars pulling power from desert and off shore wind farms over long lines. Then the electromagnetic storm will take out the continental electrical grid.

    http://www.niburu.nl/index.php?articleID=20577 [niburu.nl]
    http://richarddawkins.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=76911 [richarddawkins.net]

    Fun times.

  • by the_rajah (749499) * on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:14AM (#27518735) Homepage
    The conditions on the shortwave bands seriously suck right now! I miss those "wet noodle" days that AI1P, Mr_Perl mentioned where you could work Australia with 4 watts into a mobile antenna on 20 meters and get a 589 report.
  • by sdaemon (25357) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:24AM (#27518877)

    I realize that HAM radio is a bit of an anachronism in the eyes of most slashdot readers, but it's still the most viable medium for emergency communications. Unfortunately, with sunspot activity being so low, HF communications become very limited. Whole bands of RF spectrum are almost unusable, because the E-layer of the ionosphere can no longer bounce higher frequencies of radio waves. 40m wavelength and lower tend to still be usable, 20m is come-and-go, and 17m and higher become sporadic or completely unusable.

    I'm 31, I've been a HAM for 6 years. My cell phone often doesn't get coverage where I roam, and my power and internet and landline phone have been knocked out by storms and provider mistakes. Radio works when all else fails... ...but sometimes it works better than others!

  • by Darth (29071) on Thursday April 09, 2009 @11:27AM (#27518943) Homepage

    The sun is outsourcing its sun spot activity to another star in a less economically developed solar system.

  • They are acting like a jilted lover after being turned down by Sun.
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/162748/sun_blundered_by_turning_down_ibm.html [pcworld.com]

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