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Weak Solar Convection 100 Times Slower Than Predicted 95

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the magnetic-field-a-lie dept.
An anonymous reader writes about an observation that convection in the outer layer of the Sun seems not to behave how it ought to: "These new findings based on SDO imagery, if verified, would upend our understanding of how heat is transported outwards by the Sun and challenges existing explanations of the formation of sunspots, the magnetic field generation of the sun, not to mention the concept of convective mixing of light and heavy elements in the solar atmosphere. 'However, our results (PDF) suggest that convective motions in the Sun are nearly 100 times smaller than these current theoretical expectations,' continued Hanasoge, also a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Plank Institute in Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany. 'These motions are indeed that slow in the Sun, then the most widely accepted theory concerning the generation of solar magnetic field is broken, leaving us with no compelling theory to explain its generation of magnetic fields and the need to overhaul our understanding of the physics of the Sun's interior.'"
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Weak Solar Convection 100 Times Slower Than Predicted

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  • Some of the best moments in science have started with "Hmm, that's funny..." I wonder what this one will lead to.

  • Let's just go there and see with our own eyes. It's only 8 lightminutes away.

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:25AM (#40600981) Journal

    If you get results that fly in the face of decades of peer-reviewed research, your first instinct should not be to believe you've upended physics as we know it. Your first instinct should be, "Oh shit, what did I fuck up?"

    My money is on the "results" being wrong.

    • Well crap...I forgot to carry the "2"...
    • by Splab (574204) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:43AM (#40601051)

      They are not flying against decades of peer reviewed research - earlier data were projections; those will tend to be massively wrong, just look at your local weather forecasts...

      • by Drethon (1445051) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:45AM (#40601059)
        Right. When an observation conflicts with years of previous observations, double check the most recent observation. When an observation conflicts with years of theory and computer models...
      • "They are not flying against decades of peer reviewed research - earlier data were projections; those will tend to be massively wrong, just look at your local weather forecasts..."

        If Slashdot commenters admit that data projections can be massively wrong, then they must admit that climate projections (the favorite topic around here) could be wrong.

        • by Boronx (228853)

          But then you'd have to admit that they could be right.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          If Slashdot commenters admit that data projections can be massively wrong, then they must admit that climate projections (the favorite topic around here) could be wrong.

          The difference is that here, the observations contradict the projections, while with the climate the observations confirm the projections.Yearly average temperatures are climbing, species are spreading north, arctic ice is shrinking...

          It's the climate "scepticists" who deny observed reality, not scientists.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail!

      • Ok! Ok! I must have, I must have put a decimal point in the wrong place or something. Shit. I always do that. I always mess up some mundane detail!

        Oh! What is this fairly mundane detail, Michael?!!!!!

    • by eggstasy (458692)

      Well I'm not an astrophysicist but in my admittedly poor understanding of this, they finally got around to measuring something, whereas before it was just a hypothesis. We assumed, for decades, that other planetary systems would be like ours, simply because we hadn't seen them.
      It doesn't need any sort of new physics. We just need a better hypothesis on what causes the Sun's magnetic field.
      NASA does screw up, sometimes, but it's not like some wacko in the middle of India looked at red-tinted rain and said it

    • If you get results that fly in the face of decades of peer-reviewed research, your first instinct should not be to believe you've upended physics as we know it. Your first instinct should be, "Oh shit, what did I fuck up?"

      My money is on the "results" being wrong.

      Increase the "Oh shit, what did I fuck up?" if your "results" are multiple of 2 or 10:

      "What they found significantly departed from existing theory–specifically, the speed of the Sun’s plasma motions were approximately 100 times slower than scientists had previously projected."

    • by sg_oneill (159032)

      Considering the article linked is on a climate deniers website, you well may end up having a point. I'd like to see a more credible source for this story than the quack watt's site.

    • by SirGarlon (845873) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:15AM (#40601253)

      Sometimes decades of peer-reviewed research is wrong. Not very often, I admit, but it is exactly to find such occasions that people do science in the first place. I don't think we should discourage researchers from reporting unorthodox findings.

      Instead of making veiled accusations when someone announces an unexpected finding, the correct response is to take a careful look at it. If accusations of fraud or ineptitude are warranted, peer review will make that clear.

      Of course, I wholeheartedly agree that researchers should check their work and subject it to peer review before they call a press conference. I still remember the "cold fusion" fiasco [wikipedia.org]. Like cold fusion, this result is nothing until it's passed thorough review.

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        Better yet, the recent faster than light neutrinos [wikipedia.org]. Anyway, don't close the door to new discoveries and major rewrites of theories because facts don't match their predictions. Discarding facts because don't match the idea we have of the world is called religion, not science.
        • by lgw (121541)

          The researches involved with that did the right things: they published a paper saying "we got these unbelievable results, help us find our error." Don't cast aspersions because of the horrific state of science reporting.

      • by bunratty (545641)

        A result reached in only one reviewed paper is often next to nothing. That's why science requires repeatability. Any particular scientific paper stands a good chance of being wrong, for a number of reasons. If the paper requires a 5% probability or less of getting the results by chance alone, and most papers that get negative results are not published, then there's a higher than 10% probability that a published paper's results were obtained through chance alone -- the researchers were just lucky. Then there

      • Sometimes decades of peer-reviewed research is wrong.

        There are clues to when it might go wrong. When it does, there was always some kind of questionable scientific behavior going on, like not double-checking experiments, etc. (Some of those are discussed here [columbia.edu]).

        Usually it happens in fields that are harder to check, for example, neurology, where you can't dissect living people's brains to test your theory, or economics, where it's impossibly to set up a double-blind experiment of economies to see exactly how your tax cut/stimulus will affect things. In the ca

      • by treeves (963993)

        Of course cold fusion was never decades of peer-reviewed research. As soon as some peers reviewed it (tried to replicate it) it was shown for what it was.

  • by MacGyver2210 (1053110) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:36AM (#40601017)

    Once again, I blame this phenomenon squarely on the Higgs Boson.

  • Electric Sun? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobb Sledd (307434) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:41AM (#40601411) Homepage

    Forgive me for asking a basic question, if it is one. Assuming these observations are indeed correct, does this make any part of the idea of an electric sun more plausible than the current model of the sun? If string theory seems more like physics than magic, then why is even the direction of the idea toward an electric sun absurd?

    • For centuries, people have assumed that the sun is nothing more than a big campfire in the sky. When scientists learned more about chemistry and the energies involved, they realized that the energy output is far too large to be supported by any chemical process known. Just at the time when that realization hit, humanity discovered atomic energy. So the natural assumption was that the energy source of the sun was the atom. Subsequent observations of the sun, including this latest one contradict the theory th

      • by ultranova (717540)

        The fact that the corona is much hotter contradicts well-known facts of thermodynamics. Sunspots are dark because they are holes in the solar atmosphere allowing the cooler solar interior to be seen through them.

        A fun thermodynamical fact: if you surround a cold object with an envelope of hot gas, that object will heat to the same temperature as the gas. So it's not like the EU explains this either.

        • Here we are not talking about a gas. The corona is an extremely hot plasma, heated by an electric current on its way to the solar atmosphere. Only a small fraction of the energy carried by the galactic electric current is dissipated in the Corona, but is nevertheless sufficient to produce incredibly high temperatures therein. Most of the electrical energy is dissipated in the form of electric arcs similar to lightning or a welder's torch.

          • "Only a small fraction of the energy carried by the galactic electric current is dissipated in the Corona"

            And what is that current, in amps, if I may be so bold as to ask, grantspassalan?

            And how much of it is dissipated in the corona?

            Also, where does this current enter the Sun (or its corona)? Where does it leave?

            Or, perhaps, is the Sun merely a Hotel California-like sink (current enters, but never leaves)?
      • The fusion reaction supposedly happening in the interior of the Sun produces copious amounts of neutrinos. However, the number of neutrinos that should be measured here on earth from the sun are far below what we should see if the fusion model were correct.

        Looks trollish to me but I do want to address this particular falsehood about solar neutrinos.

        The solar neutrino problem was a major discrepancy between measurements of the numbers of neutrinos flowing through the Earth and theoretical models of the solar interior, lasting from the mid-1960s to about 2002. The discrepancy has since been resolved by new understanding of neutrino physics, requiring a modification of the Standard Model of particle physics – specifically, neutrino oscillation. Essentially, as neutrinos have mass, they can change from the type that had been expected to be produced in the Sun's interior into two types that would not be caught by the detectors in use at the time.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_neutrino_problem [wikipedia.org]

      • by haruchai (17472)

        Lines of magnetic fields do not exist?
        Ever seen the iron filings experiment?

        • The iron filings experiment is the where that whole idea of “lines” of magnetic fields comes from. It is a convenient way of describing the intensity and direction of the magnetic field, but the lines themselves do not exist. Weather maps are often depicted with isobar lines, showing the locations of equal pressure in the atmosphere. There are no such lines in the atmosphere of course. Such isobar lines do not break or reconnect, neither do magnetic “lines”. Any explanation that requ

    • by cusco (717999)
      A couple of reasons, one of which is that the electric sun people can't even come up with an even vaguely coherent hypothesis for how their supposed electric circuit is supposed to work, and it explains almost none of the observed solar phenomena. The enormous quantity of electrons that are supposed to be streaming in from the interstellar gas (because they think that the interstellar gas heats the sun, not gravitationally-induced heating and hydrogen fusion) should be easily observable, in fact they shoul
    • by Mac_OSX-1 (632402)
      The EU "Electric Sun" makes no testable predictions. When asking EU 'theorists' about the value of the magnetic field around the Sun according to their Z-pinch model, and how it is calculated, so we can compare to spacecraft measurements, we get no answer. Attempts to build a model based on their descriptions generate values that are factors of thousands to millions of times larger than the measurments.
      That is not a characteristic of a working theory.
      If we ask about the particle energy and flux of par
      • This is simply not true. There is in fact a very specific prediction for the Birkeland solar model listed at http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/blog.htm [thesurfaceofthesun.com] Since it's one of the few models that predicts a mass separated atmosphere, there is a specific prediction related to Neon +4 output from the sun, and the prediction that it originates in the photosphere not the coronal loops. As usual, you're claims about it's predictive capacity are simply false.
        • by Mac_OSX-1 (632402)
          1) Astronomers do know about electric fields in space. I have written much on this topic. ( Electric Universe: Whither the Electric Currents? [blogspot.com]).

          2) The standard of science is the numerical results of the mathematical models must match the observations. If you claim the 'Birkeland' model works better than the standard model, then you must meet that standard.
          Where are the numerical results from the model you advocate? Can you tell me the proton and electron density and energy or magnetic field at Earth's
    • For much the same reason the Pioneer Anomaly, decades ago, did not suddenly make geocentrism a cool idea worth (re-)investigating.

  • by borroff (267566) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:47AM (#40601459) Journal

    What I would like to know is how this change in measured convection rate affects our models of solar lifecycles. Granted, this may be a methodology error; IANAP (anymore), so I can't answer that question, but it seems to me some important new questions arise as a result of this finding. Does this mean stars age slower than we thought, or faster - or is the rate unchanged? Is the overall heat transfer is slower, is some other known mechanism transferring more heat, or is there some unknown transfer mechanism we have yet to discover? There's a lot of work for some lucky grad students out there.

  • Assemble our hottest astronauts!
  • by uigrad_2000 (398500) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @10:46AM (#40601927) Homepage Journal

    The Electric Universe crackpots have always claimed [thunderbolts.info] that convection had nothing to do with it. [thunderbolts.info]

    I've been fascinated with the thunderbolts.info site for quite a while. They haven't yet convinced me that we need to throw out our conventional understanding of the universe, but they have some extremely fascinating theories, and I'm disappointed that I haven't seen any serious responses to their theories.

    • I too remain open and skeptical of BOTH the unproven established theories and the unproven alternatives. One thing that really made me consider the electric theories is pulsar rotations. I find it much easier to conceive of a fast rotating electric field causing the periodicity than super fast spinning hyper dense matter.
    • by freality (324306)

      They don't read like crackpots to me. Name-calling alternative perspectives is something more indicative of religion than science ;p Also, this is the interwebz; there are actual crackpots in abundance.

      From their site:

      "... theories tend to harden into ‘facts,’ even in the face of mounting
      contradictions. Astronomer Carl Sagan’s Cosmos was published a
      quarter-century ago. At that time, some questions were still permitted.
      On the issue of redshift, Sagan wrote: “There is nevertheless a
      n

      • "They're overall arguing that electrodynamics can better explain many astronomical observations than gravitation + dark matter, dark energy and modifications to cosmological constants."

        LOL. We must be reading different websites; I found nothing at all to suggest that anyone has developed any models which show " that electrodynamics can explain any astronomical observations"!

        At least none that aren't already well-established parts of mainstream astrophysics. Care to share, freality?
        • by freality (324306)

          The one I looked at most closely was in the intro chapter to one of the books they linked:

          http://www.thunderbolts.info/EU%20Intro%20and%20Chap1.pdf [thunderbolts.info]

          That the shapes and spins of galaxies can be shown in simulation by collapsing parallel electric filaments ("pinch" effect), p. 26.. In contrast, from what I understand, you have to introduce a majority of dark matter & energy into such a simulation to get a stable galaxy if the stars interact otherwise with only gravity.

          Something I'm looking at that's relat

          • "That the shapes and spins of galaxies can be shown in simulation by collapsing parallel electric filaments ("pinch" effect), "

            No, your source is lying.

            In 1986, Peratt published two Plasma Cosmology (NOT Electric Universe) papers, reporting the results of some simulations (similar to, but not quite the same as, what you wrote). However, these were not simulations of real galaxies. Why not? Because real galaxies contain stars (duh!), whose motions ("spins", to use your term) cannot possibly be represente
            • by freality (324306)

              Hm, I think you're missing my point... I wasn't supporting their claims as more correct than a gravitationally-based cosmology, just noting that they seemed to be making reasonable conjectures, albeit non-mainstream, and that they didn't deserve to be called names. I said:

              "That seems reasonable; correct or not is a matter to be determined."

              The same can be said about dark energy/matter. Reasonable, but correctness TBD. It is problematic for a simulation to not model all know behaviors of a

              • And I think you're missing mine.

                You seemed pretty clear, when you claimed "They're overall arguing that electrodynamics can better explain many astronomical observations than gravitation + dark matter, dark energy and modifications to cosmological constants", where "they" refers to what's found on a particular website (actually, PDF), that you linked to. My point: there's no substance to any such claims (other than those which merely repeat what you can easily find from any mainstream source).

                At least,
    • by Mac_OSX-1 (632402)
      If you can't find responses to their claims, then you haven't been looking very hard. Basic conservation laws and Maxwell's equations accessible to high school physics students reveal serious problems. See http://dealingwithcreationisminastronomy.blogspot.com/p/challenges-for-electric-universe.html [blogspot.com]
    • Thunderbolts has theories? Really?

      "Theories" as in "speculative guesses", sure, they have lots of those.

      "Theories" as in "scientific theories", well, I have yet to find any on that site; which are the ones you found, uigrad_2000?
  • This has been floating around the net for a while.. I think I first saw it on slashdot many years ago:

        http://www.thesurfaceofthesun.com/ [thesurfaceofthesun.com]

    Maybe a solid metallic surface would align better with low observed surface wave transfer compared to a soupy plasma.

    • "Maybe a solid metallic surface would align better with low observed surface wave transfer compared to a soupy plasma." Perhaps it would.

      Given how much energy the Sun radiates, per second, per square metre of its surface, an interesting follow-on question might be: How could such a surface remain metallic?

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