16 February 2011

Here comes the sun...

Mediocre chemist though I am, one of my earliest heart stopping scientific epiphanies came with introduction to an equation summarising photosynthesis of water and carbon dioxide into sugars. It was so beautiful in its economical depiction of life’s dependence on our neighbourhood star. The sun is, both literally and figuratively, the centre of almost everything we are and do: there is little, if anything, in our world or our view beyond, which is not affected by it in some way. Though small on many astronomical scales (Cristiano Sabiu, in relation to work NGS hosted work on galactic distribution, comments[1] that he treats "billions of stars ... as a point source mass"), from a terrestrial viewpoint it dwarfs and dominates everything else in its immediate eight cubic parsec vicinity.

Little wonder, then, that science has always studied its idiosyncrasies and mood swings, its large gestures and its microscopic effects, its long term behaviour and short term tantrums. With the arrival of scientific computing, that study has become ever more comprehensive and precise – but it will, at least for the foreseeable future, be a statistically driven enterprise.


1. See references list at [more...] link

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