Documenting the Coming Singularity

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Eyes on the sky - Sunspots Revealed In Striking Detail By Supercomputers

Editor's note: You may wonder what this story has to do with Singularity. It bears on the topic of this blog in at least 2 ways: First, the power of our closest star gives it veto power over our existence. It can cancel our ticket in a flash, via slow-roasting energy-deprivation. Existential threats may be the only way Singularity can be stopped. Second, the computing power making this level of intimacy with its workings possible is also part of the "approach to Singularity" story. So, enjoy!

ScienceDaily - June 21, 2009

In a breakthrough that will help scientists unlock mysteries of the Sun and its impacts on Earth, an international team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has created the first-ever comprehensive computer model of sunspots. The resulting visuals capture both scientific detail and remarkable beauty.

The interface between a sunspot's umbra (dark center) and penumbra (lighter outer region) shows a complex structure with narrow, almost horizontal (lighter to white) filaments embedded in a background having a more vertical (darker to black) magnetic field. (Credit: Copyright UCAR, image courtesy Matthias Rempel, NCAR)

The high-resolution simulations of sunspot pairs open the way for researchers to learn more about the vast mysterious dark patches on the Sun's surface. Sunspots are associated with massive ejections of charged plasma that can cause geomagnetic storms and disrupt communications and navigational systems. They also contribute to variations in overall solar output, which can affect weather on Earth and exert a subtle influence on climate patterns.

The research, by scientists at NCAR and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany, is being published June 18 in Science Express.

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