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Of Late, Fewer Sunspots Than Usual

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the sundials-largely-unaffected dept.

Space 628

esocid writes "The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites. Periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual. The sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, with the next cycle just beginning and expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today's sun, however, is as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why. In the past, solar physicists observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots, coinciding with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700." (More below.)esocid continues: "The Hinode, a Japanese satellite mission with the US and UK as partners, has three telescopes that together show how changes on the sun's surface spread through the solar atmosphere. It orbits 431 miles (694 km) above the Earth, crossing both poles and making one lap every 95 minutes, giving Hinode an uninterrupted view of the sun for several months out of the year. Scientists are not extremely worried, but have added extra ground stations in case of interference from extra solar activity, and are ready for the Sun to resume its activity." (The Little Ice Age is fascinating, full stop.)

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628 comments

solar warming, that's why. (5, Funny)

Svet-Am (413146) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728767)

it's obvious why -- climate change and solar warming! we need legislation to fix this problem.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23728803)

I blame the loss of pirates.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729209)

But lately Piracy has been on the rise. I would think by now there would be a coralation.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Funny)

peragrin (659227) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728809)

Nope it's actuall the global warming laws that the sun is following. The summary stated without sunspots for 50 years the planet went through a mini ice age. The sun is just trying to help us cool the planet down a bit.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Interesting)

FredFredrickson (1177871) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728867)

That would be weird if not only the earth tried to accomodate for the inbalance- but some sort of cosmic balance that we don't understand kicked in.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Insightful)

beoba (867477) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729041)

Unfortunately, the Sun doesn't care about the Earth.

Sorry

Re:solar warming, that's why. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729269)

Unfortunately, the Sun doesn't care about the Earth.

Sorry
Fine. The Earth couldn't give a crap about the Sun either. And no, we're NOT sorry!

Re:solar warming, that's why. (2, Funny)

Raster Burn (213891) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729511)

No, silly, the article is wrong. Humans were responsible for the little ice age, not the sun!

Re:solar warming, that's why. (2, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729025)

Yeah, everybody knows that it's sunspots that cause climate change. Or maybe its absence of sunspots. Yeah, must be that, cause that's what we've got. It certainly isn't my SUV!

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729105)

Yeah, everybody knows that it's sunspots that cause climate change. Or maybe its absence of sunspots. Yeah, must be that, cause that's what we've got. It certainly isn't my SUV!
Not unless you've been driving your SUV on Jupiter, which is also experiencing warming...

Couldn't be the sun causing GW. Why would anyone even think that the primary source of heat in the solar system would be responsible for warming?

Re:solar warming, that's why. (5, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729415)

First, lack of sunspots corresponds to lowered solar output. Second, while the warming of Jupiter can be explained by increases in solar output, the warming of Earth can not. Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account? That's either bordering on a tinfoil hat level of crazy conspiracy theory, or it represents an equally crazy level of disdain for other people's intellect.

I can't understand why anyone falls for this argument, it represents a complete lack of respect for science.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729639)

Most climatologist do NOT take this into account. Are you speaking of the same scientist that swore the hole in the ozone layer was due to CFCs? Because a report (Scientific American, Spaceweather.com) both showed a direct correlation to particle emissions from the sun. NOT CFCs.

Before you go claiming "tinfoil hat science" I would look at the universities where those climatologist teach. With Berkley, Stanford, and any other liberal biased university behind their name, you can bet on their position.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (1, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729647)

I can't understand why anyone falls for this argument, it represents a complete lack of respect for science.


Well, its easy to understand once you realize that those that fall for the argument *have* a complete lack of respect for science. So the argument's lack therof, reinforces their value system.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729737)


"Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account?"

YES !!!

Re:solar warming, that's why. (2, Insightful)

Burnhard (1031106) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729873)

Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account
Frankly, yes; at least the "adjusters" (Hansen et al). As for having a lack of respect for science, I refer you to the Wegman Report.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729927)

Ok, let's do some science. Physics, to be precise. We'll start from the StefanBoltzmann law [wikipedia.org].

Radiated energy is proportional to the _fourth_ power of the temperature. For a black body j = sigma * T^4, for a body that's not quite black, you just plug an emissivity factor in too.

A body heated by an external source (e.g., Earth) reaches equilibrium when the radiated energy equals the incoming energy. So the equation works just the same with j being the _incoming_ energy from the Sun.

What I'm getting at is that the average temperature of Earth is in the ballpark of 300K. We had an increase of 1K in a whole bloody century. That's the whole Global Warming. That's an increase of 0.3% or so. Plugging it back into the StefanBoltzmann law, we need an increase of only 1.003^4=1.01205 times in solar output to _fully_ explain it. That's 1.2% btw.

But even that's a bit over-calculated. Being that the same law applies to the Sun's power output, basically we just need the same 0.3% increase in the Sun's temperature to get that effect, all else being equal. You don't need anything spectacular to happen, really.

Yes, sunspots are a cause of short term variations, but we really don't know what the Sun has been gradually doing over that century. If both Jupiter _and_ Mars have been warming up, maybe the Sun is warming up after all.

And finally, well, if you're that concerned about insults to people's intelligence... maybe you should STFU with the "shut up and don't dare question the High Priests" attitude. Just a thought.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729983)

That's either bordering on a tinfoil hat level of crazy conspiracy theory, or it represents an equally crazy level of disdain for other people's intellect.

There is no crazy level of disdain for other people's intellect. There is only accuracy, and naivety. Not commenting on the theories, just saying that a certain level of distrust for strangers, even P.H.D.s, is healthy.

Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account?

Again, not commenting on global warming, but presuming that experts checked their facts was for a time long ago, if ever at all.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729419)

There is no relationship between these phenomenon. Get your head out of the sand and stop your foolish denial of science you can't understand.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (3, Informative)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729659)

Insightful? Yikes!!!

Jupiter is experiencing warming NEAR THE POLES. Not the entire planet. Did you read the research behind what you are spouting? Or are you just cherry-picking the sound bites that make you point you have already 'decided' must be true.

If you decided to read it, then you surely came across the fact that "While the analysis remains to be proven, it is seen by other researchers as interesting and, importantly, testable even with large backyard telescopes."

So while evidence that is mounting in favor of the cause of the RETENTION of the heat on the planet earth, which causes it to retain heat energy in the infrared part of the spectrum, then that is just 'junk science' and needs to be pointed out how there is no hard evidence to support it.

But when the same limited data set and hypothesis is put forward that jupiter is experiencing climate change, that lack of actual evidence to prove the theory is something that can just be brushed aside for the sake of arguing against the same cirumstances on Earth that have similar holes in the data set?

Next time, you need to be able to think about what you are parroting, lest it make you like a complete fool.

Correction (2, Informative)

PhreakOfTime (588141) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729695)

Sorry, Jupiter is experiencing warming near the EQUATOR, not the poles like I erroneously posted in the above post.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (2, Insightful)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729793)

I always found this assertion interesting. The highly indirect measurements of the temperature of the outer planets, which could potentially indicate a warming over the last few years, are taken at face value. Yet the increase in temperature on Earth, measured in countless ways and recorded over hundreds of years, mean nothing.

Nice confirmation bias you got going there.

Re:solar warming, that's why. (4, Funny)

clam666 (1178429) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729231)

The sun isn't changing. Man causes climate change, the climate change causes solar activity to change.

Now that I've proved it the solution is to create a economic cap-and-trade system that creates a secondary market for the redistribution of wealth from people that earned it(good, bad, ugly, fairly, or unfairly) to people that didn't.

Surely you know that the movements of pieces of green paper around the earth will cause a perfect eden to exist like northern California worldwide don't you?

Re:solar warming, that's why. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729609)

First, if global warming is true, it will also cause a redistribution of wealth to people who didn't earn it, as certain areas benefit from climate change and others suffer.

Second, the cap and trade system, while not perfect , does not redistribute wealth to those who do not earn it. Fighting global warming is creating value, and those who benefit from fighting global warming get the wealth because they deserve it.

So, the reality is the exact opposite of your snide assumptions. Global warming will redistribute wealth unfairly. Fighting it will redistribute wealth fairly. Redistribution of wealth happens anyway, do you want it to be fair or unfair?

heh, perfect timing. (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729823)

a perfect eden...like northern California.

Just google "Vallejo bankrupt" when you get a chance to get a glimpse at how well legislating economic nonsense works out in the long run.

Clearly some very mean people are not paying their fair share!

Re:solar warming, that's why. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729337)

No it's because Nostramamues predectied 9/11 and because teh Mayans said the world will end on 2012 totally for reels and this proves it!!!1!

I blame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23728777)

I blame solar warming.

Re:I blame (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729115)

I blame the Mayans and their stupid calender!!

You mean the Sun's spot production has been .... (4, Funny)

Palmyst (1065142) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728797)

a little spotty?

Re:You mean the Sun's spot production has been ... (5, Funny)

MarcoG42 (1087205) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728937)

Apparently, no spotting at all. Word is the sun is tremendously worried and was seen at CVS in the pregnancy test section.

Re:You mean the Sun's spot production has been ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729591)

You expect that the /. audience is actually aware of what spotting means. Remember, most have hardly touched a woman, now you expect them to understand menstrual cycle issues.

Re:You mean the Sun's spot production has been ... (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729787)

please people, please, do not go into the CVS unless the change is major enough to warrant the attention. every little class tweak is not Changelog-worthy. There are a lot of eyes reading this CVS, and we don't want to be too verbose. And as for pregnancy...

wait, what?

Re:You mean the Sun's spot production has been ... (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729861)

Apparently, no spotting at all. Word is the sun is tremendously worried and was seen at CVS in the pregnancy test section.
That's easy to solve. Make the sun switch to subversion.

Re:You mean the Sun's spot production has been ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729821)

ZOMBIE HITLER WALKS THE FACE OF THE EARTH

LUSTING FOR TEH SWEET TASTE OF JEW FLESH

WHO CAN STOP THIS UNDEAD MADMAN?!


"The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites. Periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual. The sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, with the next cycle just beginning and expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today's sun, however, is as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why. In the past, solar physicists observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots, coinciding with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700."

Absolutly Right. (3, Funny)

aeskdar (1136689) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728865)

I can confirm that after looking at the sun I too have come to conclusion that the spots must all be hiding on the other side. (I did not see any spots or anything after)

This reminds me of... (4, Interesting)

Kemanorel (127835) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728873)

...Larry Niven's Fallen Angels [wikipedia.org]. Basic back story was that global warming was corrected, but it was the only thing holding back the next ice age. Not a bad supposition for a 17-year old novel. Pretty fun read with some decent science, as well.

Re:This reminds me of... (1)

veganboyjosh (896761) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729665)

Is there also some really bad sex?

I've really enjoyed the science and issues surrounding it in the first two Ringworld books, but it seems like every book of his I've read has some kind of lame sex scene...rishrathra? really?

If the sun is quiet ... (1, Insightful)

Alain Williams (2972) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728891)

and we are still seeing global warming effects at a greater rate than expected, what will happen when the sun becomes active again ?

Re:If the sun is quiet ... (1, Troll)

mikeee (137160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728959)

We're not. IIRC, last year was the coolest in two decades, once you adjust for major volcanic eruptions.

How? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729677)

How exactly does one "adjust for major volcanic eruptions" when calculating global temperatures?

Please explain, I really want to know.

Re:How? (1)

mikeee (137160) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729961)

You throw out the data for 1992, following the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo [wikipedia.org].

Obviously, the answer to global warming is a system of manually operated volcanos. Any public-spirited supervillians reading out there?

Global warming my blue butt (0, Redundant)

Nodamnnicknamesavial (1095665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23728919)

Incidentally this lull in solar activity coincides with there having been no discernable warming since 2000. But yeah, it's CO2 that's to blame for warming ... nothing to do with solar activity.. *rolleyes*

Re:Global warming my blue butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729189)

Right...

So how exactly do you explain the regular 11-year cycle causing warming for the previous hundred years?

You fucking idiot.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (1)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729825)

Oh gee, I don't know, maybe the end of the little ice age? It only makes sense that seeing as the world was much colder than normal 150+ year ago, that the last hundred or so years would see some noticeable warming.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (5, Informative)

bunratty (545641) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729219)

No discernible warming since 2000? Then this article from NASA [nasa.gov] must be all wrong then. Thanks for letting us know! *rolleyes*

Re:Global warming my blue butt (1, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729485)

No discernible warming since 2000? Then this article from NASA [nasa.gov] must be all wrong then. Thanks for letting us know! *rolleyes

The source isn't credible, because it's James Hansen, whose pretty plugged into the global warming scene. He has a lot of shoddy fortran code to stick up for.

Better comparison is look at the IPCC forecasts versus today, and you'll see that the planet hasn't actually warmed.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (3, Informative)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729807)

I hate to tell you this, but seeing as the temperature in 1998 is still the warmest year on record, that doesn't indicate warming. Worst case it indicates no change for the past decade. Furthermore, this goes counter to what the majority of the climate models have predicted: that the world would continue to warm almost exponentially. Personally, I find it amusing that 'global warming' has officially been replaced with 'climate change' for this very reason, yet people still try to defend global warming.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (5, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729233)

Incidentally this lull in solar activity coincides with there having been no discernable warming since 2000.

Even if that were true, which it isn't [nasa.gov], one would expect *cooling* during this half of the cycle.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729257)

Gay

Re:Global warming my blue butt (4, Insightful)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729295)

So what you're saying is that with the sun at a low point, the fact that we have not lost overall tempature here is evidence *against* global warming?

I am stunned

Re:Global warming my blue butt (3, Funny)

solarlux (610904) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729387)

Stunned by the brilliant post or the brilliant slashdot community that promoted the post to Score:4 ?

Re:Global warming my blue butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729383)

I'm not going to get into the whole global warming argument here, but I just wanted to point out that the 11-year cycle has been fairly repeatitious for the past hundred years - a lull of two years is interesting scientifically, but even IF there was a strong correlation between the two, a two year lull does not match at all with an 8 year lack of warming.

p.s. Check out Mike Lockwood's work if you DO want to get into the whole hotspots cause global warming thang.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729457)

uhh; if the sun has not been producing spots AND the temperature has not been DECREASING then global warming is in fact a very real phenomenon and actually exceeds the ability of a process that previously created an ICE age to have any effect on it.

In other words this indicates that global warming is real, and explains the lack of temperature climb in previous years, the temperature is not climbing because all of the greenhouse gases are currently countering the heat loss from lack of sunspots, it also means things are much worse then the pragmatists say (but still likely not worse then what the doomsayers say)- because once the sun does start producing spots again the temperature is going to climb suddenly.

However it also means that we, humanity, us; have a reprieve- if we can fix this before the sun starts spotting again then we can avert the worst disasters that global warming might bring.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (3, Insightful)

shma (863063) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729483)

Incidentally this lull in solar activity coincides with there having been no discernable warming since 2000. But yeah, it's CO2 that's to blame for warming ... nothing to do with solar activity.. *rolleyes*


No discernable warming since 2000? And this gets labeled informative? Sorry, but you can't just make up arguments. 2005 is the warmest year on record since records started being kept. In fact every one of the 7 years since 2000 is in the top 8 warmest years on record [wikipedia.org] (NOAA data), and there is an obvious pattern of warming over that period as well. So sorry, you don't even have correlation, let alone causation.

Re:Global warming my blue butt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729699)

Why is this informative?

And who says both events can't be happening at the same time but at different degrees of intensity depending on the time frame? Have we left our brains at work?

McCain is right on Global Warming (4, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729011)

While you probably don't agree with most of his stances on the myriad issues, his position on global warming is spot on. Even if all the hullaballoo surrounding whether humans are the primary cause of global climate change or not, if we take actions now to stem wholesale dumping of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, whether it turns out that we have a huge impact on the global ecosystem or not, at least the world we leave behind will be cleaner and more hospitable for our children and future generations.

With new data pointing to a possible solar cause to global climate change, it does not change the fact that sucking up all the available fuels and dumping CO2 into the atomsphere is making the world a worse place to live.

Hopefully we can make the right changes whether or not the science backs us up.

Johnny come lately (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729167)

Even if he is right, that's all he is, johnny come lately.

Re:McCain is right on Global Warming (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729349)

While you probably don't agree with most of his stances on the myriad issues, his position on global warming is spot on. Even if all the hullaballoo surrounding whether humans are the primary cause of global climate change or not, if we take actions now to stem wholesale dumping of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, whether it turns out that we have a huge impact on the global ecosystem or not, at least the world we leave behind will be cleaner and more hospitable for our children and future generations.

With new data pointing to a possible solar cause to global climate change, it does not change the fact that sucking up all the available fuels and dumping CO2 into the atomsphere is making the world a worse place to live.

Hopefully we can make the right changes whether or not the science backs us up.
You write that with the assumption the CO2 is bad in ways other than as a greenhouse gas. How is CO2 bad? Sodas love it. Breath mints love it. Plants love it. Hell, higher levels of CO2 actually make plants grow better, increasing crop yields, helping to feed the world (provided we don't use it all for bio fuels in an attempt to combat CO2).

Re:McCain is right on Global Warming (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729353)

whether it turns out that we have a huge impact on the global ecosystem or not, at least the world we leave behind will be cleaner and more hospitable for our children and future generations.
A lot of good that will do when all it takes is one asteroid or super volcano to make your children extinct.

Re:McCain is right on Global Warming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729689)

There are many scientists and politicians who have made statements about global climate change. McCain is not the first one that comes to mind. In fact, he's pretty far down on the list. It's one thing to quote Al Gore as an "expert" on global climate change, but to point to McCain... me thinks you are trying to bolster McCain's position more than anything else.

Re:McCain is right on Global Warming (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729955)

Because no one should have a problem with the government using fear tactics to pass legislation that the puplic would otherwise resist.

Just because you agree with the end result doesn't make it right.

Hooray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729069)

The Sun's spots are finally clearing up. Now it can stop being so shy around girls.

How long until this is on Faux-News (0, Offtopic)

multi-flavor-geek (586005) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729103)

How the little ice age (obviously a Liberal Conspiracy) is being used as a cover up for the fact that the evidence for Global Warming (another Liberal Conspiracy) is not as strong as it should be. They will even have tapes of Hillary Clinton secretly meeting with representatives of the sun, and possibly be able to tie the whole thing together with the sunspots being stolen by terrorists who are planning an attack using solar flares on the Olympics in Beijing as the beginning of a new Jihad.

I'm an ignorant layman (2, Insightful)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729169)

What happens when an asteroid hits the sun? Does it splash? Or does it vaporize before it hits the sun?

I've read that sunspots are caused by the sun's internal magnetic field, how do we measure it?

Re:I'm an ignorant layman (1)

wass (72082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729561)

What happens when an asteroid hits the sun? Does it splash? Or does it vaporize before it hits the sun?

The consequences of the asteroid hitting the sun depend strongly on whether there is attached to that asteroid a miniature embryo created from a clipping of Superman's hair.

Regarding the sun's magnetic field, it can be measured by observing the Zeeman splitting [wikipedia.org] of the appropriate spectral lines. I don't know how accurately solar physicists can measure internal magnetic fields, but I assume they can look at lines of heavier elements within the core, versus the predominantly hydrogen/helium in the corona, to make a depth-dependent magnetogram.

22 not 11 years (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729221)

It's actually a 22 year cycle because every 11 years the sunspots have a different polarity of the magnetic field associated with each pair of spots.

2012 (4, Interesting)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729283)

...and expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012
Causing the apocalypse predicted by the Mayan calendar, no doubt.

It's the Mayan Prophecy! (4, Interesting)

steeljaw (65872) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729291)

Surprised that nobody has yet linked this to the Mayan 2012 prophecy, in which The world will end on Dec 21, 2012. [survive2012.com].. I'm not a big believer in apocalypse prophecies, I think it's just one of Man's primal fears and along with death, probably one of the reasons religions were created.

2012? (2, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729317)

isn't that when the mayan calendar is supposed to end?

http://skepdic.com/maya.html [skepdic.com]

so the sun is just preparing to shut down, for the coming end of the world, of course

Re:2012? (1)

volcanopele (537152) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729607)

Good lord, whenever anyone mentions the year 2012, people will instantly think it has something to do with the Mayan calender. Here let me give it a try. I am considering getting a cat. It will be an only cat. However, in 2012, I will breed the cat a couple of times so it has some kittens. Obviously, those kittens will be the harbingers of doom given their connection to the year 2012. Doom, I tell you!

Re:2012? (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729621)

isn't that when the mayan calendar is supposed to end?

http://skepdic.com/maya.html [skepdic.com]

so the sun is just preparing to shut down, for the coming end of the world, of course

If the Sun ran Windows, I would understand why it would need five years to shutdown. Unless it is running Windows, and it's waiting for an admin password to start producing spots again.

So what will the future be without sunspots? (1)

Miladinoski (1280850) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729347)

In the article I havent found anything that says what will happen to the solar system if the trend continues like it started.

I am no expert on this field and I am interested in some expert explaining the effect of this trend.

What a fluke (1)

ztransform (929641) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729371)

In an age where we are more and more dependent on electronics, radio (e.g. mobile phones), and satellite radio services (e.g. GPS), it is an incredible fluke that we are not being unduly affected by the sun's radiation.

Though I'm glad the threat of solar flares and radiation is being taken seriously (e.g. NASA's STEREO project [nasa.gov]) I do wonder if at least some of the technology we thrive under won't fail miserably when the next solar maximum takes place?

Wheat price vs sun spots (3, Interesting)

georgep77 (97111) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729439)

A few hundred years ago William Herschel was able to notice the inverse relationship between sunspots and the price of wheat.
http://www.hao.ucar.edu/Public/education/bios/herschel.html [ucar.edu]

I find it amazing that this relationship (sun spots vs agricultural output) is dismissed so easily by the current anti-CO2 crowd. I am all for eliminating pollution but I am very worried that the focus on CO2 is completely wrong and is doing a great disservice to humanity.

CO2 is the breath of life.

_GP_

Re:Wheat price vs sun spots (2, Insightful)

wass (72082) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729765)

I find it amazing that this relationship (sun spots vs agricultural output) is dismissed so easily by the current anti-CO2 crowd.

Are you kidding? It is this very observation (solar activity vs earth temperature) that has led scientists to conclude that global warming is caused by another factor beyond solar output.

Scientists haven't used wheat prices per se, but there exist hundreds of years of sunspot data from astronomers around the world.

Increased solar activity leads directly to increased terrestrial temperatures, and the correlation is quite good for all the sunspot and temperature data for the past few hundred years. Except the recent few decades, where terrestrial temperature is increasing at a far greater rate than what it should be for the solar output.

Oh, this is just fucking wonderful... (2, Funny)

david@ecsd.com (45841) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729449)

Global climate change has now spread to the sun. Thanks a lot you SUV driving motherfuckers.

Jerks.

Re:Oh, this is just fucking wonderful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729917)

Remember kids, every barrel of oil that isn't burned up in a shiny American SUV with pollution controls is greatly appreciated by someone in China or India who will be more than happy to burn it instead.

But it WILL be burned.

Maunder Minimum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729513)

This was proposed by Russian scientists months ago.

So these scientists are being funded... (1)

tzot (834456) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729545)

...to spend their time sunspotspotting.
Great job. Where do I sign?

Blame W (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23729713)

Hey Bush is to blame for everything else. George W, Cheney and Haliburton must have fooled with the Sun too (slightly facetious post)

You don't won't no drama (1)

Zosden (1303873) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729753)

Great this is how the world ends not with a bang but without sunspots. Enter dramatic music and dramatic gopher.

Well, we're overdue for an ice age. (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729763)

Guess we need to get ready to pump up the greenhouse gasses to compensate.

My TinFoil Prediction (2, Funny)

hanshotfirst (851936) | more than 5 years ago | (#23729985)

1. Group A declares GLOBAL WARMING (and soylent green) comes from PEOPLE
2. Group B declares Nuh-uh! Not it doesn't!
3. World expends great effort in reducing human contribution, reducing warming by (a little bit)
4. Natural warming/cooling cycles shift, reducing warming by (a lot)
5. Earth cools due to natural cycle before effects of #3 really kick in.
6. Group A declares GLOBAL COOLING also came from human behavior. See! Told You So! Our efforts worked! We should do more of #3!
7. Group B says zOMG! The earth is cooling! Build more SUVs! Save the planet! Save the tropical fish from extinction!
8. The current arguments continue
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