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The Sun's 'Quiet Period' Explained

Soulskill posted about 4 years ago | from the ra-needs-naps-too dept.

Space 167

Arvisp writes with this excerpt from the BBC: "Solar physicists may have discovered why the Sun recently experienced a prolonged period of weak activity. The most recent so-called 'solar minimum' occurred in December 2008. Its drawn-out nature extended the total length of the last solar cycle — the repeating cycle of the Sun's activity — to 12.6 years, making it the longest in almost 200 years. The new research suggests that the longer-than-expected period of weak activity may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun."

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Perhaps (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266712)

it was worried about Larry Ellison too...

Climate change (0, Troll)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 4 years ago | (#33266714)

What you saying? This is not caused by global warming?

Re:Climate change (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266838)

That's right. The sun's solar minimum is not caused by global warming, nor is the hottest decade on record caused by the sun's solar minimum. Pass it on to any idiots you know who keep saying "It's just the sun!"

Re:Climate change (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266936)

There is a blight more serious than Global Warming, it is cyclical and is happening now. Run for the hills. Beware the political campaign signs.

Re:Climate change (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#33267100)

"There is a blight more serious than Global Warming, it is cyclical and is happening now. Run for the hills. Beware the political campaign signs."

Right. The entire world is waking up to the horrible fact that there will be no more episodes of 'Lost'.

Re:Climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267222)

Wait, did they just now cancel that show? Wow. About time ;)

Oh, and this is flamebait for those mods itching to waste points.

Re:Climate change (0, Troll)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 4 years ago | (#33267254)

Solar minimum is minimum of sun spots. Sun spots are relatively cooler areas of the sun. So while I am not saying for a fact that the increased solar minimum is responsible for what they were calling Global Warming I am stating that your particular argument is bullshit and stupid.

Re:Climate change (1)

butterflysrage (1066514) | about 4 years ago | (#33267038)

What you say? Climate change has only been going on for the last 12 years of the last solar cycle and was directly discussed in the article?

Re:Climate change (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 4 years ago | (#33267136)

"What you say?

Who are you, an ex-Zero Wing [wikipedia.org] translator?

Re:Climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267126)

Nope. I'm sure it is completely unrelated to some of the extremely hot days this summer (for the Northern Hemisphere anyway) too.

Funny? No, more like Tragically stupid (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267216)

Grow up. Trolling doesn't add to the discussion. just because you're a scientifically illerate fool who puts your politics before science doesn't mean
A) that AGW doesn't exist
B) that scientists don't know how the sun works and haven't already accounted for it's energy variations
C) that people who disagree with you are doing so for political reasons
D) that anyone has ever tried to blame everything on global warming
E) that weather is climate and climate is weather
F) that your back yard is representative of the real world

Hint: at the bottom of that solar minimum we were STILL WARMING, though we did detetct a slowing of the warming trend that can be directly connected to the lowering activity. a slowing, not a cessation of warming, not a reversal.

Re:Climate change (2, Interesting)

jellomizer (103300) | about 4 years ago | (#33267300)

That is the thing about astroPhysics, that I really like. Any problems that occur isn't our fault. Here on Earth because everything is so tightly interconnected every problem can somehow be blamed on human intervention, and I am not denying that. But it is nice to have things that isn't our fault.

Re:Climate change (1)

pckl300 (1525891) | about 4 years ago | (#33267754)

No, it's solar warming on the sun. If only the sun reduced its emissions by switching to Hydrogen fuel...

Oblig: (3, Funny)

lul_wat (1623489) | about 4 years ago | (#33266720)

You want solar maximum? No soup for you !

Re:Oblig: (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33267302)

Shouldn't that be "No plasma for you!"?

hot soup? (5, Informative)

Lord Ender (156273) | about 4 years ago | (#33266726)

the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

This is slashdot, not preschool. You can use your big-boy words with us.

Re:hot soup? (4, Funny)

0racle (667029) | about 4 years ago | (#33266752)

We frequent a different Slashdot don't we?

Re:hot soup? (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | about 4 years ago | (#33267316)

Maturity is a relative term, after all. ;)

Re:hot soup? (1)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | about 4 years ago | (#33266828)

Blame the BBC, that quote was lifted verbatim from the fine article.

Re:hot soup? (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | about 4 years ago | (#33266948)

You don't like soup very much, do you?

Re:hot soup? (1)

minchazo (1548055) | about 4 years ago | (#33267420)

No soup for you!

Re:hot soup? (-1, Offtopic)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33266984)

This is slashdot, not preschool. You can use your big-boy words with us.

About half of the responses so far are jokes about the Oracle/Sun merger. The other half are oil industry shills claiming that, since the solar activity varies, then it's obvious that no human activity can have any effect on climate.

No, I think it's better to use car analogies instead of big words here.

Re:hot soup? (3, Funny)

idontgno (624372) | about 4 years ago | (#33267148)

No, I think it's better to use car analogies instead of big words here.

Sorry, my car-ma ran over your dogma.

Re:hot soup? (0, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | about 4 years ago | (#33267022)

[Dr. Evil.] No, Mr. Powers, I expect you to die. Even after they pay me the money, I'm still going to melt every city on the planet with hot soupy magm, er, plasma. Release the preschoolers! Mr. Powers, you'll notice that all the preschoolers have laser beams attached to their heads...

Re:hot soup? (1)

stephathome (1862868) | about 4 years ago | (#33267566)

Clearly Dr. Evil doesn't have much experience with preschoolers if he thinks they need laser beams on their heads to be destructive.

Re:hot soup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267080)

No soup for you!

Captcha: delicacy. How surprisingly appropriate.

Re:hot soup? (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 4 years ago | (#33267332)

I don't know... every time I see CME (corneal mass ejection) I still giggle. I think the pre-school terms probably fit well with me.

Re:hot soup? (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | about 4 years ago | (#33267724)

the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

This is slashdot, not preschool. You can use your big-boy words with us.

And apparently, this "hot soup" is delivered via a "conveyor belt".

Just wanted to be the first one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266734)

ahem like Intel :P

Finally... (0)

cozzbp (1845636) | about 4 years ago | (#33266738)

Finally some evidence to prove my new theory I will soon propose: Global Cooling.

Re:Finally... (1)

doug (926) | about 4 years ago | (#33266954)

Actually, there was talk of that back in the 1970s. I don't remember if there was any serious science behind it or not. It could have just been a general cultural concern because of all of the fears of a Nuclear Winter.

- doug

Re:Finally... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267086)

In the 70s it wasn't clear which effect was winning, cooling due to aerosal particles (soot) in the atmosphere or warming due to carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. It turns out that warming was winning which became clear in the late 70s and 80s. There was no consensus at any time saying that global cooling would be a problem long term. However, this debate did get mixed together with the discovery of the orbital cycles which cause the ice ages which predict another one thousands of years from now . So you got some popular science articles warning about global cooling and a new ice age.

Re:Finally... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33267132)

Finally some evidence to prove my new theory I will soon propose: Global Cooling.

Regardless of the quality of your material, be prepared to be a frequent guest on F0X News.

Re:Finally... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267196)

Finally some evidence to prove my new theory I will soon propose: Global Cooling.

You're late to the party. They changed it to be "climate change" some time ago so no matter if the globe "cools" or "warms", some people can equally claim the sky is falling and push through their unrelated political agendas.

Re:Finally... (2, Interesting)

mweather (1089505) | about 4 years ago | (#33267562)

That's an odd reason to change the name, seeing as how the globe has only kept getting warmer.

Re:Finally... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33267280)

Finally some evidence to prove my new theory I will soon propose: Global Cooling.

      You're going to have to wait a few thousand millenia though before people will believe you. You're just a little ahead of your time.

Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (-1, Redundant)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#33266750)

Oh my gawd! Solar cooling! Won't someone thinking of the children! This is obviously the work of man and industry. According to all known publications on global warming, any deviation from historic trends means man is completely behind the deviation.

We should immediately start nuking the sun to spur increased solar activity.

I sincerely hope moderators understand tongue in cheek humor.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 4 years ago | (#33266810)

You: We should nuke the sun from orbit!
Moderator: The nuke won't make it into orbit, it's too hot.
You: Let's go at night, then.
Moderator: Oh yeah, of course!

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#33266992)

You made me laugh out loud! Thanks!

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (3, Funny)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33267246)

You: We should nuke the sun from orbit!
Moderator: The nuke won't make it into orbit, it's too hot.
You: Let's go at night, then.
Moderator: Oh yeah, of course!

Slashdot: Aren't the nukes technically already in orbit?

How can you joke about this? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266818)

We're all going to die and you're making jokes? We're facing the biggest mass extinction event since dinosaurs discovered gasolene... AND YOU'RE JOKING ABOUT IT?

MODERATORS -- MOD THE NON BELIEVER DOWN!

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (0, Offtopic)

egandalf (1051424) | about 4 years ago | (#33266862)

I sincerely hope moderators understand tongue in cheek humor.

Surely you jest. These are, after all, slashdot moderators you're talking about. I think you're just as likely to get scathing comments from people rampaging at the (overly literal) idea that we should fire nukes into the sun. "But you'll set the sun on fire! Think of the children!" et al.

Now that I've mentioned it as well, I expect similar results.

Now we know the truth! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266866)

The fact is that global warming is caused by the earth not letting go of the heat it collects from the sun. Thus it seems obvious that this solar activity is caused by the earth stealing too much heat and actually cooling the sun measurably. Soon it'll be a cold husk all due to the fossil-fuel burning SUVs that people insist on driving.

You have destroyed the solar system BP, I hope you are happy!

[/sarcasm]

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (0, Offtopic)

Surt (22457) | about 4 years ago | (#33266932)

Oh my gawd! Solar cooling! Won't someone thinking of the children! This is obviously the work of man and industry. According to all known publications on global warming, any deviation from historic trends means man is completely behind the deviation.

We should immediately start nuking the sun to spur increased solar activity.

I sincerely hope moderators understand tongue in cheek humor.

Sorry, from the moderation so far, you are out of luck on moderators understanding tongue in cheek humor.
Next time, try tongue in ass humor. I think you'll have better luck with this age demographic.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33267088)

I sincerely hope moderators understand tongue in cheek humor.

Yes, they do understand it. They understand it so well you don't need to repeat again the same old joke that inevitably appears here every time there's an article about the sun.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#33267124)

I sincerely hope moderators understand tongue in cheek humor.

Since your "humor" is based on a nasty strawman caricature, you deserve all the downmods you get. Saying something blatantly stupid and insulting and then retreating behind "but I was joking!" is a classic bit of troll cowardice.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#33267192)

Class ignorance.

Sometimes the best humor is humor which makes light of strawmen.

Probably best to simply say, "Whoosh!", in your case. Dry humor is not for everyone.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33267228)

While your comment adds no end of profundity to the discussion, I'm sure.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#33267522)

That's likely the root of the problem. Even a hint of truism brings ire and censorship rather than a spotlight for humor. Coincidentally, its probably censorship from the same people who like to complain about censorship on slashdot.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

GooberToo (74388) | about 4 years ago | (#33267262)

I like the, "redundant", moderation which implies its obviously the truth, and therefore redundant.

The moderators have really become insanely ignorant these days. I wonder if the demographic has profoundly changed in recent times. Based on comments and moderations, it suggests both lower IQs and the far less learned haunt slashdot these days.

Re:Solar Cooling! Man is at it again! (1)

mangu (126918) | about 4 years ago | (#33267692)

I like the, "redundant", moderation which implies its obviously the truth, and therefore redundant.

Most likely the "redundant" comes from variations of this joke appearing every time there's an article about any sort of temperature change in any place other than the earth.

A joke may be funny or not the first time you hear it but it's never funny after you hear it several times.

Inactivity? (4, Funny)

Anarki2004 (1652007) | about 4 years ago | (#33266800)

What's this nonsense about inactivity? The most recent java update I can find is July 7, 2010. What's that? You mean there's more than one sun?

Re:Inactivity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266834)

Yeah, don't you remember when those monolith thingies lit up Jupiter?

Re:Inactivity? (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#33266998)

That big glowing ball in the sky is now called "the Oracle." Get with the times!

Re:Inactivity? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#33267568)

No, it's the fusion lamp in the room with the blue ceiling. Get with the times!

It should be obvious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266812)

It is because Oracle was buying them. Things usually quiet down until the merger is complete.

Sheesh!

Don't believe the hype - still all man-made (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33266824)

Of course this 'solar minimum' had absolutely NO effect on Earth, at all. Average global temperature changes are still only man-made phenomena.

On the other hand (1)

Dainutehvs (936606) | about 4 years ago | (#33266852)

Oracle's massive activity can't be explained.

Seems normal to me. (4, Funny)

Zeek40 (1017978) | about 4 years ago | (#33266860)

Generally after I've spent a night spewing out hot liquids and gasses, I need a day or two to sleep it off. I can imagine plasma makes for an even worse hangover.

Re:Seems normal to me. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | about 4 years ago | (#33267060)

I thought I could relate until you said hangover. It's typically the local Mexican food truck that gets me spewing hot liquids and gases. It's a good kind of hurt though (I guess anyways. For some reason I keep ending up there 2-3 times per week). Damned Al Pastor Tortas . . .

Re:Seems normal to me. (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33267108)

The above is exactly why I keep asking for a "TMI" moderator category.

Re:Seems normal to me. (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 4 years ago | (#33267186)

I can imagine plasma makes for an even worse hangover.

right. and that's why people are moving away from plasma and toward lcd.

oh. wait.

Huh... (1)

Saint Aardvark (159009) | about 4 years ago | (#33266876)

I had just put this town to Oracle's takeover of The Sun. Guess that's why I'm not an astronomer.

Re:Huh... (1)

Tablizer (95088) | about 4 years ago | (#33266976)

I had just put this [down] to Oracle's takeover of The Sun. Guess that's why I'm not an astronomer.

It will get worse when Oracle asks for royalties on tans.
     

Just Pushes Back The Question (4, Insightful)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 4 years ago | (#33266894)

'... may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

So why did the "hot soup of charged particles called plasma" change in the way that they circulated?

Re:Just Pushes Back The Question (1)

thomaswp (841668) | about 4 years ago | (#33266962)

Agree. NOT explained. Poor headline by non-scientist.

Re:Just Pushes Back The Question (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33267062)

To score on 2012? Turns out the clock was running a little fast after all those millenia...

(seriously - it would be interesting if the observed solar cycle is, more or less, a result of interfence of few underlying ones; for starters, the Sun is a bit flattened, so propagation times of various disturbances might very well differ depending on direction; and if they interact... )

Re:Just Pushes Back The Question (0, Troll)

demonbug (309515) | about 4 years ago | (#33267164)

'... may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun.

So why did the "hot soup of charged particles called plasma" change in the way that they circulated?

Because God made it so.

What, did you sleep through your creationism classes in high school or something?

Re:Just Pushes Back The Question (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 4 years ago | (#33267318)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Although the underlying equations governing plasmas are relatively simple, plasma behavior is extraordinarily varied and subtle: the emergence of unexpected behavior from a simple model is a typical feature of a complex system. Such systems lie in some sense on the boundary between ordered and disordered behavior and cannot typically be described either by simple, smooth, mathematical functions, or by pure randomness.

All we *ever* do is push back the question (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | about 4 years ago | (#33267558)

"Why" is the question that children repeatedly ask until adults get bored. All science can do is move one step at a time, answering one set of questions so that the next set of "why"s are visible.

Ultimately you get back to "god did it" or "everything exploded from nothing". Neither of which are enlightening.

 

Photino Birds (1)

jpkunst (612360) | about 4 years ago | (#33266930)

Probably Photino birds [wikipedia.org] wreaking havoc with the sun.

This is why I hate most science reporting (4, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 4 years ago | (#33266956)

The headline, and the first few paragraphs make it sound like this is a solved problem: theories were proposed, experiments were done, results were verified and a conclusion was concluded.

Instead, what actually happened is completely murky. There is no mention of which satellites were used to gather data, or which organization collected it, or how data was used to support the conclusions. It seems that some people ran some computer simulations where they could replicate the current cycle by changing some parameters of the solar conveyor belt. But that's a guess, because the article says nothing. And to really make the article useless, there's the obligatory counter-point from a random scientist who says something completely different, again without any explanation of why.

Journalists ought to learn that science reporting is not like Entertainment or even Politics reporting. It doesn't really matter who said what, but only why they say and how they came to the conclusions. I'm not holding my breath though.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (1, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 4 years ago | (#33267068)

The headline, and the first few paragraphs make it sound like this is a solved problem: theories were proposed, experiments were done, results were verified and a conclusion was concluded.

Well, it's kind of hard to do experiments on the Sun. This is one of the problems with the idea that a lot of people seem to have, usually based on half-remembered lessons from high school "science" class, that there's thing called "the scientific method." There isn't; there are a whole bunch of scientific methods, all more or less related but difffering from field to field. Observational sciences such as astronomy must by the nature of the field use different methods from experimental sciences such as, say, microbiology.

Anyway, as far as the specific article goes, it makes no such claims as you, um, claim it does. From the very first sentence: "Solar physicists may have discovered why ..." And it goes on with "The new research suggests that ...", "... one reason for the prolonged period of weak activity could be ...", etc. This is actually a pretty good job of pop-sci reporting, and from your complaint it sounds like you read what you expected to see in the article, instead of what's actually there.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (1)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | about 4 years ago | (#33267264)

No shit it's hard to do experiments on the sun. That's why there are laboratories that replicate specific parts of the sun's physics, satellites that collect data and things like the Ice cube experiment. Even astronomy isn't done completely in the dark with no experiments.

May...suggests.... could be... Those are called weasel words for a reason. In this case, they are weasel words because they cover the complete absence of any evidence for the conclusion. The weasel words do not cover that fact. Furthermore, the use of the weasel words is even further weakened by the inclusion of the obligatory contrary opinion.

The article might not be bad in comparison to other articles, but quality is not relative. It's a standard of its own.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33267286)

You forgot to mention how there also was a bit of a counter-point.

Did GP even read TFA? (uhm, yeah, silly me...)

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33267306)

Well, it's kind of hard to do experiments on the Sun.

NASA [wikipedia.org] and The ESA [wikipedia.org] wish to disagree with you. Well, okay, in your defense those weren't particularly 'easy' by any definition of the word. The point, however, is that we've been experimenting on the sun (or, at least using observed data to experiment with our models) for awhile now.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (4, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 years ago | (#33267152)

Journalists don't have a clue. Which is why from law to science reporting is garbage. From why fruit flies die so quickly, to anything in relation to climate or weather, to why bad guy X got 5yrs in jail for insert crime here. From a lawish point of view let me add this, every once and awhile I spend time in court being a witness for this, or that, or something else. There's always some reporter, from some news agency there if it's anything big. I will tell you now, if I wasn't in the court myself, I'd have no clue that the article I was reading had any relation to the case, if my name wasn't in there somewhere.

That's how far removed reporting is from reality these days.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (1)

sznupi (719324) | about 4 years ago | (#33267252)

"these days"?

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267470)

Journalists ought to learn that science reporting is not like Entertainment or even Politics reporting. It doesn't really matter who said what, but only why they say and how they came to the conclusions. I'm not holding my breath though.

I agree and, furthermore, posit that this isn't an unreasonable expectation. After all, many journalists go to university and earn a degree specifically in "journalism." I'd imagine that such a degree could reasonably include categorizing different sub-fields of journalism and the unique requirements for each.

But then again, I expect degree program to teach material and provide useful knowledge.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (2, Insightful)

Fantom42 (174630) | about 4 years ago | (#33267544)

Journalists ought to learn that science reporting is not like Entertainment or even Politics reporting. It doesn't really matter who said what, but only why they say and how they came to the conclusions. I'm not holding my breath though.

Well, the summary is worse than the article in those respects. For something like the BBC, the audience cares less about the methods and more about the conclusions. That said, it doesn't excuse reporting of incorrect conclusions.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (4, Informative)

Dalambertian (963810) | about 4 years ago | (#33267564)

The paper is actually a lot clearer than the press surrounding it. http://www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2010/2010GL044143.shtml [agu.org] FTFAbstract:

Plasma flowing poleward at the solar surface and returning equatorward near the base of the convection zone, called the meridional circulation, constitutes the Sun's conveyor-belt. Just as the Earth's great oceanic conveyor-belt carries thermal signatures that determine El Nino events, the Sun's conveyor-belt determines timing, amplitude and shape of a solar cycle in flux-transport type dynamos. In cycle 23, the Sun's surface poleward meridional flow extended all the way to the pole, while in cycle 22 it switched to equatorward near 60. Simulations from a flux-transport dynamo model including these observed differences in meridional circulation show that the transport of dynamo-generated magnetic flux via the longer conveyor-belt, with slower return-flow in cycle 23 compared to that in cycle 22, may have caused the longer duration of cycle 23.

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (2, Informative)

Geirzinho (1068316) | about 4 years ago | (#33267574)

I totally agree with you, this is too insubstantial even for science reporting.

The article is at adsabs, but it's on subscription only:
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2010GeoRL..3714107D [harvard.edu]

Maybe someone with a subscription to "Geophysical Research Letters" could voice an opinion?

Re:This is why I hate most science reporting (2, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about 4 years ago | (#33267654)

Actually, Politics reporting would be vastly improved if they would report it more like you would like them to report science news. You know instead of "People really seem to like Joe Schmoe's position on TOPIC OF THE DAY. According to the latest poll he is pulling ahead of John Doe after trailing him for the last month," they could say, "Joe Schmoe has released a detailed proposal on TOPIC OF THE DAY. He says that he would propose THIS APPROACH to dealing with this issue. Meanwhile, John Doe has said that while THIS APPROACH might work, it would be much better to take THAT APPROACH." (words in all capitals represent variables that will change from election to election).
If newspapers had started giving detailed reports on the positions politicians take on various issues years ago instead of giving us the same soundbite coverage that television gives us, they might still be viable businesses.
Of course this might have resulted in people who get their news from the newspaper voting for the "wrong" candidate based on the positions he took.

May have been linked (2, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 4 years ago | (#33266964)

may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of charged particles called plasma circulated in the Sun

Um, yeah, and the recent heat wave in the western part of the U.S. may have been linked to changes in the way a hot soup of particles called atoms circulated in the atmosphere...

Seriously. /. needs to stop voting dreck into the stream and start doing real story selection and summary editing. Because the value added per editorial second is dropping like a rock.

Re:May have been linked (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 4 years ago | (#33267114)

Don't you mean, dropping like it's a hot bowl of soup?

Cycle my ass ... (-1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | about 4 years ago | (#33266970)

whenever some private interests need an excuse for something they are doing, a 'cycle' is invented. thanks to 'think thank's and private 'research institution's. thats privatization of science, and thought process for ya.

Re:Cycle my ass ... (1)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about 4 years ago | (#33267172)

Do you have a point? Or was that just an exercise in crimes against grammar and cohesive thought?

Oh yeah, those 'cycles' that science comes up with, what a crock, like the so-called 'water cycle' that evil 'private research institutions' acknowledge. Everybody knows that rain just materializes in the sky rather than condensing from evaporated surface water.{/sarcasm}

I mean really, are so you so dumb and so blindly focused on attacking 'private interests' (of all things) that the best you can come up with is 'rar! cycles are inventions of corporate fat cats!'

Ugh. I'm getting really sick of all the stupid anti-corporatism for anti-corporatism's sake.

Re:Cycle my ass ... (2, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | about 4 years ago | (#33267190)

a 'cycle' is invented.

      Yes because there are no cycles at all in nature.

      Hello? Just because we can't explain something fully doesn't mean we can't spot repetitive behavior. These observations have value, if only to serve as the starting point for an explanation by someone smarter than us at some point in the future.

Re:Cycle my ass ... (5, Informative)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 4 years ago | (#33267234)

/facepalm

Give me a break. The solar activity cycle has been documented and studied since the early '60's (if not prior). We use it to design appropriately rad-hardened components in the spacecraft industry. We analyze required mission lifetimes and chart solar activity for the projected lifespan of the spacecraft as variations in solar activity affect everything from solar cell degradation to magnetic drag induced on your spacecraft. Hell, I can eve give you a citation. Go find yourself a copy of Fundamentals of Space Systems ed. II by Vincent L. Pisacane. Crack it open to Chapter II: The Space Environment. Read pages 50 through 60. It's all laid out in the basics there. If you want more detailed info. go crack into a journal of astrophysics sometime....

So put away the hatred of science and go back to doing whatever it is you do.

Of course, if you were being sarcastic and/or satirical, I completely failed to pick up on it due to a lack of sarcasm tags around your post.

Re:Cycle my ass ... (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33267328)

Well, I'll agree with you that most seasonal holidays have been pretty much commercialized. endjoke.

But what are the seasons, if not natural cycles? Was it a corporate plot of the first humans in order to maximize crop yields?

A couple of important questions (1)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | about 4 years ago | (#33267032)

How long will it take until the Sun enters the "quiet period" again? How "loud" will it be until then?

Re:A couple of important questions (2, Funny)

demonbug (309515) | about 4 years ago | (#33267200)

How long will it take until the Sun enters the "quiet period" again? How "loud" will it be until then?

My sources indicate it may, in fact, go to 11.

Ah, Dikpati et al (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267034)

The exact same team predicted a huge solar cycle 24 in 2006.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060307084500.htm

"The scientists gained additional confidence in the forecast by showing that the newly developed model could simulate the strength of the past eight solar cycles with more than 98 percent accuracy."

Re:Ah, Dikpati et al (1)

pseudorand (603231) | about 4 years ago | (#33267462)

Are you being critical of the research? TFA talks about a study of the completed solar cycle 23. We're currently IN Solar Cycle 24, which the article you reference predicts will peak in 2012. They may be right. Of course we'll never know, since the Mayan calendar clearly shows the end of the world in 2012, but that's another story. Or is it?!?

are we really surprised? (-1, Troll)

SolarStorm (991940) | about 4 years ago | (#33267210)

The sun is 4.6 BILLION years old and we are concerned with a couple of years difference in the Solar Cycle? How many of our empirical evidence cycles have we measured in this sort of accuracy? The whole cycle measures within 2.3e-8% of its lifespan and we are surprised that we haven't got the accuracy narrowed down? What other natural phenomenon have we measured to this accuracy cause I would really like to see the ruler that was used...

Re:are we really surprised? (4, Informative)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 4 years ago | (#33267492)

The sun is 4.6 BILLION years old and we are concerned with a couple of years difference in the Solar Cycle? How many of our empirical evidence cycles have we measured in this sort of accuracy? The whole cycle measures within 2.3e-8% of its lifespan and we are surprised that we haven't got the accuracy narrowed down? What other natural phenomenon have we measured to this accuracy cause I would really like to see the ruler that was used...

What got your panties in a twist? Just because something might vary over 4.8 Billion years has nothing to do with the fact that based on our current set of measurements this period was a bit longer. Hell, it doesn't matter if we measured only ONE other cycle, we could STILL make the observation "Hey, this cycle is longer than the last one".

However since you did ask. Sunspots were what we first used as a 'ruler'. Discovered in 800 BC, drawn later, and eventually the cycle was first showin in 1843 using data going back to 1755. We now know sunspot data (from historical observations not always available to the first discoverers of the cycle) going back to 1610.

And it's not like it's a 'slight' cycle either. These things vary by 150+ appearances per day during the peak, down to a dozen or fewer during the minimum.

Take a look at this picture: http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/images/Zurich_Color_Small.jpg [nasa.gov]

You don't exactly have to be a statistical wizard to see a pattern in that data.

Re:are we really surprised? (1)

SolarStorm (991940) | about 4 years ago | (#33267688)

I agree, but I deal with rainfall and watershed data. The engineers talk in 20, 50 and 100 year events and these are no where nailed down to any sort of accuracy. even the full 400 year measuring period is looking at is still 8.7e-7% of the lifespan of the sun we have looked at such a small window and drawn an assumption over that window. We are definitely going to be wrong. heck we cant even predict tomorrows weather accurately, let alone something we measuring at a distance, where we are still only theorizing about how it actually works. "slight" variances on a cosmic scale may not be measured in years.

Re:are we really surprised? (0, Troll)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 4 years ago | (#33267596)

Don't you get it? Things can never change. Any deviation from what we expect means there is a calamity brewing that needs a billion dollars to be thrown at it so that it can be understood.

The Human Race is emotionally incapable of dealing with change.

Good thing (0, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | about 4 years ago | (#33267274)

It's a good thing that the sun has no effect on Global Warming, as specifically commented on by the GW supporters, or else they would have had to explain the sunspot problems before now. Because of these great scientists, everyone now knows that the sun has no effect on the temperature of the Earth.

I am surprise this isn't blamed on global warming (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#33267604)

You know, how our Carbon emissions are actually weakening the sun. Because we know humans have more impact on the environment that a hot glowing ball of gas in the sky.

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