Have I mentioned my love for They Might Be Giants yet? No? Well, that seems like a pretty vast oversight…they’re a couple of quirky guys who sing fantastic (and sometimes nonsensical) songs with an unforgettable beat. If you’re not familiar then you really should check them out.
I love a number of their songs, but there’s one from early on I adore called Why Does The Sun Shine? It says, in part:
The sun is a mass of incandescent gas, a gigantic nuclear furnace
Where hydrogen is built into helium at a temperature of millions of degrees
Yo ho it’s hot, the sun is not a place where we could live
But here on earth there’d be no life without the light it gives.
Okay, I really can’t go any further until I share this song with you. Click on over and have a listen. It’s so worth it. Why Does The Sun Shine?
You’re dancing now, right? Or at least tapping your foot and nodding your head along to the beat. I can promise you this, though, the song will stick with you. You’ll hum it in the car, in the shower, in the frozen foods aisle. You’re welcome.
At any rate, the brutal truth is that I learned (or at least retained) more information about the sun from a two and a half minute They Might Be Giants song than from any science class. This probably speaks more to my learning style than my science teachers themselves, but regardless…
Here are some things I now know about that great big ball of fire in the sky:
- it’s made of incandescent gas
- it changes hydrogen to helium
- a million earths could fit inside one sun
- the sun acts like a giant atom-smashing machine
- its heat and light come from the nuclear reactions of hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, and helium
Now that’s a lot of science.
Why so into the sun, you ask? Well, I’ve been giving the sun a great deal of thought lately. When you’re looking back at a four week stretch with temps in the 90s you tend to zero in on the heat source. We don’t live in a hothouse or beside an enormous volcano, leaving our sun as the primary suspect.
When the announcer uses the phrase “heat index over 100” more than three times in a month, that’ll make you sit up and take notice. As in, “Gee, I guess the giant fiery ball in the sky is working double time.” Either that or there’s a massive conspiracy to create a 200% humidity environment, thus ensuring profitable quarters for soap and deodorant companies.
Either way, it’s hella H-O-T.
And you know why? Because that mass of incandescent gas has been atom-smashing in overtime.