Sun Amok: Summer’s fun and all, but it’s not your friend

Mike Paulus, illustrated by Serena Wagner

I’m not sure why you all like summer so much. Because I’m pretty sure summer doesn’t like you. At least, not as much as you think it does. Especially the Sun. That big blazing ball of brightness in the sky may seem all warm and fuzzy, casting a hazy summertime glimmer across your many outdoor activities, but I’m telling you – it doesn’t like you.*

The Sun wants to sauté the fields and forests around you so the steamy moisture from all that vegetation streams into the air, creating the Sun’s favorite torture device: The Dread Humidity.

The Sun wants to burn you. Burn you. It wants you to sweat during public events. It wants to blind you as you drive your car at high speeds. It wants to sauté the fields and forests around you so the steamy moisture from all that vegetation streams into the air, creating the Sun’s favorite torture device: The Dread Humidity.

The Sun yearns to do horrible things to your skin. It wants to fade your paint. Fry your garden. It wants to convert your motor vehicles into death traps for your dogs.

The Sun belches up shards of pure light and sends them raging through space towards Earth. That trip takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds, giving it time to think. About you. And what it wants to do to you.

Because light is so gosh-darn fast, that 8-minute trip covers 149,600,000 kilometers. That’s almost 93 million miles. It flies all that way. It penetrates the earth’s atmosphere. It somehow finds a direct path between mountains, towers, buildings, and trees. If finds your house. And then it slips through the tiniest of cracks between your curtains, blasting your precious, naked eyeballs with glittering needles of radiation as you try to watch The Great British Baking Show on Netflix.

Because the Sun does not like you.

You may not know it, but at this very moment, the Sun is screaming at you. I’ve read about how the Sun constantly pushes granules of hot material to its surface. Each “granule” is the size of Texas. As the fiery mass reaches the surface, it cools and releases sunlight, then it sinks back down. That whole process takes only 5 minutes. So all at once, at any given time, 10 million of these Texas-sized globs are rising and sinking across the surface of the Sun at astonishing speed. And that makes a lot of noise.

So let’s imagine the Sun is a very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very large speaker – a speaker 10,000 times larger than the surface area of the Earth. That imaginary sun-speaker would generate thousands to tens of thousands of watts of sound power for every square meter.

If that power were to reach you (even at 93 million miles away), the Sun would sound about 100 decibels loud. That’s like standing across your living room from a jackhammer. Except no matter where you go on the planet, in the daylight you will always be across the room from a jackhammer. The Sun would be loud enough to cause you physical pain. After 8 hours it would cause hearing loss. The metaphorical jackhammer would run nonstop. Forever.

Lucky for us, none of this is possible because the space between the Earth and the Sun does not contain air, and sound needs something like air to, you know, happen. Thus, the Sun is silent to us tiny Earthlings.

And this makes the Sun so very angry.

Scientists tell us the Sun is almost perfect. Now, by “almost perfect,” I mean to say the Sun is almost a perfect sphere. Remember how big it is? The Sun would need to eat 1.3 million Earths (which it would gladly do) before it got full. Well, despite its amazing size, there’s only a 10 kilometer difference in its polar and equatorial diameters. This makes it the closest thing to a perfect sphere observed in nature.

Compared to the Sun, Earth is an ugly, deformed blob, or an oblate spheroid, as smart people say, and a pretty bumpy one at that. The Sun knows this and is pretty smug about it. 

So all you people eager to worship the Sun may want to reconsider, because the Flaming Sky Orb has no intention of being nice to you. Temperatures inside the Sun can reach 15 million degrees Celsius, generated by nuclear fusion at its core. Gravity – our true friend – is the only thing stoping it from exploding and incinerating every last one of us.

Enjoy your summer.


*I mean sure, without the sun our planet would never have formed, Earth-bound life would never have appeared and evolved, our ecosystems would never have developed, our food wouldn’t grow, and super cool people would never have invented super cool-looking sunglasses. But I’m confident the Sun, scientifically speaking, doesn’t give a crap about any of that stuff.

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