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Is This How Sol Will Die? 78

ScottMan writes: "I found this link over at ABC News about some new pictures HST took. It shows a dying star, much like our own sun. Kind of interesting to see what our solar system might look like in another 5 billion years or so."
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Is This How Sol Will Die?

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  • Yeah, but as long as our protocols aren't encrypted, then you should be able to detect the redundancy inside it..

    Even when I send encrypted data over TCP/IP, I get all the FIN's and ACK's and what not. Even if the content is never read, lets hope the protocol is noticed.
  • If you're a true American, like myself, you'd shoot holes in the bucket with your handgun so it would empty itself out. Sheesh. :)
  • by SlashGeek ( 192010 ) <petebibbyjr&gmail,com> on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @07:14PM (#802952)
    Wow... 5 billion years till Sun crashes? Now THAT's a benchmark to be beaten!

  • It's actually Latin, I don't know if the Swedish word traces back to Latin, but this is definitely the case for Romance languages, to wit:
    • French: le soleil;
    • Italian: il sole;
    • Spanish: el sol;
    • Portuguese: o sol;
    That's my polyglot pedantic tip of the day <g>
  • This doesn't matter much. IF human beings haven't already killed themselves off in WW XII by then, I for one, would hope we were capable of interplanetary travel. Meanwhile, we can take heart in the fact that this won't happen for another 5 billion years (the arguable current length of time the universe has existed)

    And really, when we all start looking at the universe and stars, let's all remember the Monty Python Universe song. We're just a planet in the solar system in a galaxy in the local cluster, in the universe. And for all our earth-centric thinking, we don't matter for all that much in the Universe. If a billion people in china don't care what you do at the dinner table (and they're only half a planet away), why should a googleplex of stars care?

  • Here's a cute little argument that predicts that mankind has a roughly one-in-two chance of ceasing to exist within five hundred years (and therefore probably won't be around when the sun dies). It uses the Anthropic principle, but backward. I am roughly translating from the not e in French [] I wrote on the subject.

    Imagine the following game. Somebody chooses a positive (real) number x. He then picks a random number y uniformly distributed between 0 and x, and tells it to me. My goal is to guess what x was. If I state that "x is between y and 2y", then the probability of my being right is the probability of y being being beween x/2 and x (that's the same thing), so it is 1/2 because y was uniformly distributed between 0 and x. That's trivial. And in practice if you play this game, it is a sensible thing to guess that x is between y and 2y.

    Now it evidently doesn't make sense to take for x the total lifespan of humanity, because men are not uniformly distributed along it. So we take for x the total number of human beings that will have lived in the entire duration of humanity. We would like to know what x is. We don't have a clue. However, one thing we do know is how many people have lived so far, or, which is roughly the same thing, your (or my) "rank number" in the list of all human beings (in order of birth). This number, y, is of the order of 8*10^10 (80 billion that is). Further, since you (or I) have no reason of being one given human being than another, y is uniformly distributed between 0 and x. Consequently, we can apply the result I just gave, and conclude that x has one chance out of two of being between y=8*10^10 and 2y=1.5*10^11.

    Translated in other words, it means that there is one chance out of two that less than 80 billion human beings have yet to live (or be born). With a current rate of 1.5*10^7 (150 million) born each year, assuming it does not decrease considerably, this brings us 500 years hence. I think this is a sensible order of magnitude.

    (Of course, the same reasoning also shows that there is a better than one-in-twenty chance of "doomsday" befalling within our lifetime. That's a rather chilling thought.)

    In case it wasn't obvious, this post is to be taken as "Ha, ha, only serious". If you want more thoughts on the same line, see here [].

  • Just be careful and hope I don't find out who you are. It's very easy to say those things anonymously, but should you slip up and I find out who you are, you will wish that you had never said any of that. I am not going to make threats, but be assured that I don't take these rude sorts of comments lightly. Be careful, and watch your back because one of my people could be watching you at any time as soon as I find out who you are.
  • spanish and catalan, too.
  • I believe there was an experiment that involved many tons of lead under a mountain (to block out cosmic radiation that could intefere with the experiment) in which proton(s?) could be detected decaying as it/they emitted some sort of energy in the process. My memory on this, however, is very foggy.
  • I don't know about you, but I'm personally happy to know that other civilizations can't hear us...

    Any civilization advanced enough to reach us is advanced enough to wipe us out. Look what happened in our own history when the Europeans reached the Americas.

    Howard Swan (

  • I thought that the post was terrifically funny. I don't have any mod points, so I can't give you any. I can do something for you though. Since Slashdot is a zero sum game, my loss is your gain! I've got over 200 karma, and this message congratulating you should surely be modded down. You get your reward one way or another...

    Oops, you're an AC. Drat.
  • by devapoj ( 83412 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @05:28PM (#802961) Homepage
    4.9 billion years hence, assuming that only cockroaches and lawyers for the MPAA exist, what kind of legacy are we leaving for the inhabitants of a new star with new life, billions of light years away. With a plethora of PCs running their version of seti@home, what chance do they have of picking up our civilisation.

    Practically none when you think about it.

    By that time, encryption will be so advanced it'd take a billion years to develop the hardware and probably another billion to crack the zillion-bit encryption code used to ensure we all have to pay lots of samolens for our classic "Simpsons". Laws will be passed to shield monitors and television sets to prevent old-fashioned analogue interception of what is considered the property of the movie studios. In other words, if aliens do pick up anythign, it would be so unintelligible that it makes no difference from the randomness of background noise in space.

    Even today, with power levels going down and down, smaller sattelite dishes and (relatively) simple compression, we are slowly but surely destroying any chance of aliens detecting us. A decade ago, it would be conceivable for someone to constuct from scratch the apparatus to decode a television signal. Now, how would we get past the stage of constructing a viewing card?

    I know it's off topic, but it's the closest topic I've seen for a long time to put forward this line of thought :-)

    Just some random thoughts off the top of my head before I go to bed tonight... Please don't take it seriously.
  • Since that is a double star system, the dynamics wont be exactly the same. What is supposedly happening there is a one old star is feeding another one causing a massive jetstream to be blown off of it.

    I think a better idea of what the sun might look like in 5 billion years is more likely looking at Betelgeuse (ok its much more massive but the idea is correct.) You are going to see it bloat out,
    eat the planets and then possibly there might be an interesting effect where Jupiter will eat up some of the gas from the Sun and possibly become a brown dwarf. This would be a long shot, but more likely at the 8-10 billion stage where the sun is becoming a white dwarf and spewing 50% of its mass off in a "planetary nebula"

    -- weee I get to use my Astrophysics degree for the first time in 7 years!!!!

  • Slowly aging and ebbing further away, more and more insignificant as time goes on.

    The last I heard our Sun should enter the Red Giant stage toward the end of its life when most of the hydrogen is burned up. Can't remember exactly how big it will expand to, but it will be enough to swallow the Earth and incinerate it. We'll definately go out with a bang. What you're describing is the stage following this (white dwarf?)
  • by Gorimek ( 61128 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @05:37PM (#802964) Homepage
    Well, it may not have come to English from Swedish - though a lot of olde english words are old viking toungue -, but "sol" is the Swedish word for "sun".

    So now you know.
  • It's not so much the encryption. They don't care about being able to read it, so long as they detect it. But as we move to frequency-hopping more and more, it will be harder to single out a civilization. That, and the space aliens don't care about us. We're not as advanced as we think we are. (to make this on-topic) Scientists still can't agree on when Sol will die. Most say 5 billion, but I've heard estimates of between 3 and 8 billion.

    People, please, no more jokes about SOL.exe. We all know it will run for at least another 5 billion years, at least it would if it were on a linux box.
  • So you're saying I've got some time?
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @05:38PM (#802967) Homepage Journal
    C'mon people, we know it won't die. The Network Is The Computer. All that high-powered hardware and nifty Java code will outlive everything else in the universe.

    Or do you mean that other Sun? (grin)
  • Proton decay has been documented?
  • It's that really nasty bright light out in the blue room. try and avoid it if you can....

  • by toriver ( 11308 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @10:10PM (#802970)
    Is the question really interesting at all? It apparently took a mere 10 million years for a land-based mammal to evolve into whales. In five billion years, humans might even have evolved into energy-based creatures like in Babylon 5. For certain, they will not lokka bit like the humans of today - who don't even look like the humans of a trifle 10,000 years ago.
  • The sun is a star, and like any star will some day die out in a huge super nova. We, of couse, won't be around when it happens so we don't have anything to wory about right now, except getting sun burns and maybe skin cancer. We won't be around when in a few billion years from now the sun will die. Hell this planet is a mess now to begin with, and in the future will most likely be uninhabitable. Who knows there may not even be any human on the Earth by that time. We will all probably have moved out into space by then. What is the next stage of the sun is UV, we won't be able to go outside durnig the day and even at night it could still be harmfull to us; we would fry very quickly during the day. Just be glad that the sun won't die out during our life time, and remember that it won't be our problem anyway.
  • Sol's not binary

    Sol.exe is very binary....or do you have the source? ;-)

  • by radja ( 58949 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @11:28PM (#802973) Homepage
    if the martians ever intercept terran tv-signals, they better not save it to disk. MPAA will sue them for copyright infringement. under US law. because US law is Universal (or was that Warner?).

  • See this article: The Once and Future Sun [].

    Note that we don't 5 billion years left of "the sun as we know it". Not even one.

  • Well, that's a point of debate in certain circles... will the Earth be inside, on the surface, or outside the corrona? The debate is entirely moot as the Earth will be vaporized long before the sun expands that far. And on this, everyone seems to agree: The Earth is toast.

    (Oh, and as I recall, Sol's Red Giant stage is on the order of 100 billion years away. Maybe we'll have technology similar to that on Bruneis to stablize our Sun.)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's nice that to see that someone is using the name of our star and not the "sun" for a change. "We need another Vietnam to weed out their numbers" - Bart Simpson
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2000 @07:15AM (#802977)
    Now it evidently doesn't make sense to take for x the total lifespan of humanity, because men are not uniformly distributed along it. So we take for x the total number of human beings that will have lived in the entire duration of humanity. We would like to know what x is. We don't have a clue. However, one thing we do know is how many people have lived so far, or, which is roughly the same thing, your (or my) "rank number" in the list of all human beings (in order of birth). This number, y, is of the order of 8*10^10 (80 billion that is). Further, since you (or I) have no reason of being one given human being than another, y is uniformly distributed between 0 and x. Consequently, we can apply the result I just gave, and conclude that x has one chance out of two of being between y=8*10^10 and 2y=1.5*10^11.

    The obvious fallacy is that Og the caveman, Euclid, Charlemagne, or Isaac Newton could, in principle, have done the same calculation (with the values of y and birthrate appropriate to their times) and gotten radically different expected dates for Doomsday. Thus, either the assumption of uniformity is wrong or the calculation is fundamentally broken.

  • Actually I thought it was kind of clever, making a reference to the hit TV show Third Rock from the Sun within my third post within an article about one or more Sun(s).

    It would have been far more clever if you had known that you were actually referring to the song "Three Stones from the Sun," sonny. Never explain your own jokes, especially if you're imitating what you saw on television.
  • Billions years from now we(humans) wont inhabit Earth anymore. Earth might be used to send convicted robots to.Naboo is a nice place to live.
  • So what does this have to do with the price of eggs?
    Well that depends... are they green eggs and ham []?

    You would'a thunk eggs wuz OT on Slashdot but nooo...
  • Does that mean we're due for a nice "nuclear winter" type event? I hope so - I'm ready for snowboarding season to begin here on the East coast! :)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    third post from the sun
  • It's saddening, to see what one day may happen to our own star.... Slowly aging and ebbing further away, more and more insignificant as time goes on. I mean, really, the Sun deserves a better ending than just wasting away, doesn't it? Our sun has done such good for us, I think the least we can do is pay it back by ensuring that its end is as spectacular as possible! Who's with me? All right! I'm going out right now and starting the
    Obliterate Sol Campaign!
    5 billion years from now, there's gonna be a hell of a lightshow!

  • Anyone think we'll still be here for when the sun goes out like a nightlight?
  • I've NEVER seen sol.exe die... The mouse and the cards get a little wonky sometimes, but a bluescreen for sol? Perish the thought.

    I think you Linux zealots are getting too paranoid...
  • by batobin ( 10158 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @04:59PM (#802986) Homepage
    Come on! I'm an American! I don't even care what the earth looks like 5 years from now. All I know is that it's my kid's problem, and they better fix it so they can put me in a good nursing home. I need to go now, there's a bucket of used car oil out front and it isn't dumping itself in the gutter.
  • that this was going to be about Microsoft
    finally releasing a new version of solitaire
    for windows and killing the age old sol.exe
  • If this [] article is to be belived, then someone just had the penultimate core dump. ;P

  • If microsoft eventually embraces and extends all the planets in the solar system it doesnt seem that sad to me.
  • by craw ( 6958 )
    Timothy, please read the article before posting. As you know, many ppl here don't bother to read the article and comment based on what the /. crew posts. Additionally, this is "old" news as yahoo featured this as a science item a few days ago. Please don't post abcnews articles as this site tries to send you eighteen gazillion cookies. Furthermore, this event took place a long time ago; the light is just reaching us today.

    The article says that this might involve a red giant star and a white dwarf star, both in their death throes. Last time I look, this planet does not orbit around dual suns. Perhaps, you think that you are still on Tatooine. Get over with it! Your uncle and aunt are gone. The key things is this.

    Hubble astronomers believe the object is actually two aging stars masquerading as a single youngster.


  • One of my girlfriend's nicknames is, the fact that I saw what appeared to be a death threat to her on slashdot scared the shit out of me.

    Of course, after realizing that it was only about that big burning sphere of gas that will not burn out until long after my carcass has rotted away into dust...I calmed down. But, I would think that if the dolphins do not get opposable thumbs first, we, as the dominant species, will figure out how to leave Earth and go pretty far away to other places that are far more miserable than the trailer trashy hunk of space dust we reside on now. I just hope that we can avoid the Vogons and their damned poetry.

  • It'll already take well over a billion years to crack our current encryption (barring quantum computing or some other unforseeable event).
  • Actually, it's Latin. I took two years in School.
  • Unless the Restaurant at the End of the Univers' will have a franchise in our solar system by then who's going to see it happen ?

  • At no point does it explain *why* they don't think it's a young star. "It looks exactly like a young star but we don't think it is?" So why? The article says it's a mystery but doesn't explain.
  • But it's not the end then, as when it goes nova, while it'll fry the earth worse than a first day fry jock at McDonalds, the outer planets will not be destroyed - damn cold, but not destroyed.
  • Beeep. Notice how I said that this was not a certainty but only a probability of one in two? And that's precisely the point: half of mankind (the "latter half") could make the computation and they would be right in the interval they find, whereas the other half would be wrong. Thus, there is no fallacy involved, only probabilities. There is no date involved, only an interval.

    You should realize that more than half of all men that have been born so far have been born in the last two hundred years. You may get the impression that "Og the caveman, Euclid, Charlemagne or Newton" cover a vast part of the timeline of humanity, but in terms of numbers of birth, they do not.

    The more dubious assertion is that the birth rate will remain over or about 150 million per year in the coming five centuries. But there, I don't know how to improve upon this.

  • You may get the impression that "Og the caveman, Euclid, Charlemagne or Newton" cover a vast part of the timeline of humanity, but in terms of numbers of birth, they do not.

    You have missed the point. Each of them does cover a vast part of the timeline of humanity in terms of numbers of birth by the evidence available to each in his own time. If no particular individual is privileged, then each, using human history up to and including his own time, can make an equally valid calculation of how long the human race can be expected to endure into the future (again, from his own time as the baseline). Looking back on it from our viewpoint, we can see that each calculation is meaningless -- just as someone looking back from two thousand years in the future will dismiss our own similar calculations.

  • actually i beleive the sun is grows larger first before it begins the "dying process" so really we will be engulfed in the suns burning flames before we ever get the nuclear winter your talking about. geuss we should be packing to move to jupiter soon.
  • by Captn Pepe ( 139650 ) on Wednesday September 06, 2000 @10:20AM (#803000)

    Sure, planetary nebulae are pretty and impressive, but that's not what humanity should be worried about, at least as far as our sun goes. Current theories of stellar evolution point out that already, the Sol should have a sizable core of He "ash" that isn't yet hot enough to fuse into higher elements. As this He core grows, the pressure will build under the force of gravity, causing both the core temperature to rise and the sun to shrink. Solar luminosity could increase by a factor of 10% over the next 100 million years.

    If this doesn't sound like much, recall that climatologists predict dire consequences of a 1-2 degree greenhouse effect. A 10% increase in solar output would cause much worse heating. However, we humans wouldn't even last that long. The seas regulate greenhouse gasses by locking up carbonates in seabed sediment; increase the temperature (a little) and the rate of deposition increases. Unfortunately, increase solar output by about 5% and this process runs away. Result: no more oxygen in our atmosphere. Or carbon dioxide, for that matter, so the forests won't help then. By the time Sol gets to +10% luminosity, we're talking about oceans at a rolling boil. The atmosphere fills up with water vapour, solar radiation spits this into oxygen and hydrogen (unfortunately the oxygen at this point is too late to do any good) and the hydrogen escapes to space. Poof -- 200 million years and the Earth is as dry as Venus, and possibly as acidic.

    Now how's Mars sound?

  • I thought it was "Third Stone from the Sun" by Jimi Hendrix of course.
  • Your memory serves you well, although I am not sure if lead is the medium. To the best of my knowledge and the consternation of physicists, they have yet to find compelling evidence of a single proton decay. Another experiment, using tons of dry-cleaning fluid as the trap (I believe), and located deep in an abandoned mine, is catching far fewer neutrinos from the sun than expected. This tosses a monkey wrench into the math regarding the rate of conversion of hydrogen into helium. Fewer neutrinos=fewer nuclear reactions=less pressure in the core=a smaller, perhaps cooler Sol than observed, or a flawed neutrino experiment or faulty physics/math. I think the experiments are ongoing but they are keeping the mess under the rug.
  • No, five billion years hence is about the right time.

    If you look at a HR diagram, you can see that Sol has already begun to leave the main sequence. One hundred billion years might be plausible for something just out of the brown dwarf stage, I think, but we're not it. Stars far larger than ours can burn up all of their hydrogen in the order of millions, not billions, of years.

  • In few billion years we will know what this really is.
  • I was wondering how they can tell the difference between a new star, and this star (these stars??). The article says it is behaving in the same manner, so how can they tell?
  • by len(*jameson); ( 202702 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @05:10PM (#803006)
    Luckily Moore's Law applies to suncreen as well as CPU power with SPF rating doubling every 18 months or so.

    By the year 10870 we should have sunscreen capable of SPF 2.6 * e^16, or enough to protect 1/3 of the population of Kentucky from the nasty rash that would develop as our star explodes.

    Thank god the dark cold world of the future will contain the pale, personable, people from Kentucky.
  • "Hubble astronomers believe the object is actually two aging stars masquerading as a single youngster."
    Last time I checked, we weren't living in a binary star system with a white dwarf compainion. I'd trust Hubble astronomers over ABCNews any day. Just another troll post, it seems.
  • It took me twenty minutes to work up the nerve to move my mouse.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This topic reminds me of a Frank and Ernest Cartoon []
  • If sol.exe dies, will it create a black hole in the MCSE market?

    If sol.exe dies in a forest and no one hears its dying scream, did it make a sound?

    If sol.exe dies, and comes back to life, will you be able to see the animation at the end of the game on a fast machine?

  • It's not so much the encryption. They don't care about being able to read it, so long as they detect it.

    Ah, but good encryption has as little redundancy as possible, and therefore is difficult to distinguish from random noise -- so it does make matters worse.

  • by meckardt ( 113120 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @06:05PM (#803012) Homepage

    The subject of this article is the binary star that Hubble saw in the process of leaving the main sequence as its hydrogen runs out. But when this happens to a star, it is not the end of its life.

    A star with the mass of the Sun blows off a lot of its material as it goes nova, but eventually the remenants (certainly less than 1/2 the original mass) turn into a white dwarf star. While this type of star isn't undergoing a lot of fusion at its core any more, it takes quite a while for the remaining energy to radiate into space. But eventually, the white dwarf will cool off. You might call the result a black dwarf... but its still there.

    This month's (October 2000) Astronomy Magazine ( has an article speculating about this very thing: what happens to stars (actually, what happens to the ENTIRE UNIVERSE) after the nuclear fuel runs out. What I got out of this article is that all those burned out stars are going to be around for a very, VERY long time... on the order of 10^40 (10,000 trillion trillion trillion) years. That is how much time it is estimated it will take before proton decay will eventually evaporate everything (except perhaps some black holes).

    So all those who were worried that the sun was only good for another 5 billion years, take heart! Except for the fact that none of us will live through its transformation, we would have plenty of time to enjoy our planet's primary.

  • There are many humor impaired moderators here. You had a good, funny idea and got the third freaking post. Nice. If you got the 2nd or 4th post, then I would mod you down. But the ability to think quickly, and execute should be worth something.

    I've seen a lot of 1st posts. Most are pretty lame. My two favorites is one guy who posted a rambling, but interesting comment. However, he selectively highlighted (bold letters) a sequence of letters that spelled out, well you know. The other was a /. interview with someone. He then posted (wasn't the 1st) something like, "First Post, sorry I couldn't resist". He got moderated up and down. It was very funny as he clearly understood /.

    The moderators will probably drop my post down. Fine by me. But they are, as a major US politician stated, "major-league asshole(s)".

    Back OT. This involves two dying suns. The Earth orbits one. This may involve one very young sun. The Earth doesn't orbit a very young sun. So what does this have to do with the price of eggs?

  • Since the picture came from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), would it be fair to say that the picture was JPL'ed ?

    Is this license compatible with the GPL?

    How would RMS view this?

    All my programs have their uses. This one, for example, takes the entire contents of RAM and places it in a file called 'core'

  • It may be biocentric of me, but I view any event that destroys everything in the solar system as "the end"!
  • If you are referring to the 1/3rd solar neutrino problem, that problem was solved when we noticed that the electron neutrinos (or are they antis? I forget) produced by the sun in nuclear fusion can oscillate to tauon neutrinos and muon neutrinos.

    Also, while we are still waiting for proton decay (which, if it occurs, will mean the end of baryonic matter in roughly 10^34 years) to be validated (and is predicted by all of the GUTs we currently have), and it doesn't wash, well...

    ...and I kid you not, but protons can decay by another process I read about, pretty speculative, and would take 10^122 years. Hawking suggested it, though, in a method similar to the radiation he posits for black holes.

    A pretty decent hard sci-fi writer did something, in the pre-oscillation era, about how we discovered that alien lifeforms were interfering with our sun's fusion, thus leading to lower neutrinos than expected.

  • Look, suppose we have a six-sided die and every man throws it once. I say "we have five chances out of six of not hitting the number one". You will agree with that, I hope. Well, of course you can point out a lot of people will hit the number one, and from their point of view the fact that "hitting one is pretty unlikely" is worthless, but the probability is still valid.

    It is a trivial fact that half of humanity will be born in the "second half" of humanity, and they will be justified in their belief that there will be fewer people born after them than before.

    Since we have no reason to believe that we are more likely to be in the former half than in the latter half, I say we have a one chance in two of being in the latter, and I draw the conclusions in that case. This is perfectly trivial reasoning.

    Naturally, you can cite a lot of people who have lived in what we are now sure to be the former half, and they would be wrong in believing that they are in the latter half. I can't cite anyone sure to be in the latter half because we can never know for sure when it starts. But it evidently must exist, and it must contain as many people as the former half.

    I don't know why people find this reasoning hard to accept: it's basically very simple.

    Maybe you find that distressing and pessimistic. Well, here's another result which is more optimistic, then. As previously, let y=8*10^10 be the number of people who have lived so far, and x be the total number of people to live in the entire time span of humanity. The probability that x is at least equal to ky (for some real number k>1) is 1/k. If you calculate the mean expectancy of a so distributed random variable, you will find the integral to be divergent: the expectancy is infinite.

    Thus, while there is a 1/2 probability that the number of people yet to live is at most 80 billion, the average number is infinite. Mind-boggling. But obvious.

    Don't trsut me: do the math. And, of course, still ha, ha, only serious.

  • When sol.exe started up, did Brian Eno write the soundtrack?
  • Well, I don't need to know the song to know the TV show. That was the humor.
  • We're slipping a little off the topic of how our star will finish its life, but these numbers are truly staggering and I will tuck Sol back in before this is over. I am familiar with the incomprehensibly long time-span of 10^34 years or so with an ancient universe dead and void of matter. But 10^122 years? More or less, that's a single quark finding itself outside of the grasp of its siblings and a single proton would vanish once every millenia or so. Back on topic, there is virtually no chance that the sun has lost a single proton in that fashion since its birth and it probably won't die of missing proton syndrome either.
  • by MZoom ( 93667 )
    sôl = the sun. Nominative singular. Masculine.

    Latin in origin.

  • Bugger waiting that long for a fireworks show, I say we dump all our nukes in the photosphere- may not do much but prettier than letting them rust, hell let's just all shoot the sun with handguns...
  • And when Sol snuffs it, we'll be "Stone Free"...
  • I think that at this point in the development of civilisation and technology in general, evolution is barely going to affect the way we turn out. We'll change ourselves much faster then evolution could.
  • by Christopher Thomas ( 11717 ) on Tuesday September 05, 2000 @05:18PM (#803025)
    I was wondering how they can tell the difference between a new star, and this star (these stars??). The article says it is behaving in the same manner, so how can they tell?

    Spectroscopy would be one way. If the star pair is rich in helium or heavy elements and the surrounding nebula isn't, that would indicate that the stars have been burning for quite some time.

    Environment is another way. If the star pair is inside a star-forming nebula, then there's a decent chance that it's young. No nebula, and it's probably old.

    Structure is another. If it's confirmed that one of the pair is a white dwarf, then it's most likely an old binary system (alternative is a protostar that captured a white dwarf). White dwarf stars are what you get when a star the size of the sun exhausts its fuel (after the red giant stages).

    I have no idea which technique of the above, if any, was used for the star pair in question. The article didn't go into much detail.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Because a50faw630haw6305b6q is my root password. Please change it immediately, because I am too lazy to change my root password.

    I have not changed it in four years, so my password is obviously older than your slashdot name.

    Thank you for your cooperation.
  • "Hubble astronomers believe the object is actually two aging stars masquerading as a single youngster."

    Kinda like the Clintons.
    [bada-boom] tssss

APL hackers do it in the quad.