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The Solar Oxygen Crisis

CowboyNeal posted more than 7 years ago | from the clearing-the-air dept.

Space 158

Astrophysicist writes "The Astrophysical Journal this week published an article about the abundance of oxygen in the Sun. Oxygen is the third most abundant atom in the universe, behind hydrogen and helium. Most of the hydrogen and helium was formed in the Big Bang, which means that oxygen is the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the interior of the stars. The solar abundance of oxygen, which is key in astrophysics because of its use as a calibration reference for other objects, was thought to be well established since the 80s. However, recent evidence indicates that it has been overestimated by almost a factor of two. A revision of the solar oxygen abundance would have a cascading effect on other important elements, such as carbon, nitrogen and neon, whose abundance is only known relative to that of oxygen. In addition to the impact on the chemical composition of many stars, models of solar interior may require some reworking in order to be consistent with the new data."

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Hard luck (4, Funny)

casings (257363) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912083)

That amount of oxygen is just under the amount needed to create a stable atmosphere for human life on the sun.

I guess there's always Mercury.

Re:Hard luck (2, Funny)

borizz (1023175) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912093)

I'd rather live on Mercury. The sun has other problems beside a lack of Oxygen. Shooting jets of superheated plasma come to mind.

Re:Hard luck (4, Funny)

aurb (674003) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912131)

Not to mention real estate prices...

Re:Hard luck (4, Funny)

sentientbeing (688713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912469)

I'm continually disappointed that we've never sent a manned mission to the Sun.
Now, I know what you're thinking:
'Duh. That's stupid. Its way too hot'

Yes. But only if you go in the daytime

Re:Hard luck (1)

bheer (633842) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912545)

>I'm continually disappointed that we've never sent a manned mission to the Sun.

Don't worry, Hollywood is on the case! Linky [apple.com]

Re:Hard luck (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912581)

That trailer is old news. This [nimp.org] is a link to a trailer that is vastly superior(And in HD!)

Re:Hard luck (1)

Jarjarthejedi (996957) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912737)

Cue semi-obscure Duck Dodger's reference

"Invade the Sun!"

Re:Hard luck (2, Funny)

Zonekeeper (458060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912149)

Shooting jets of superheated plasma come to mind.


Hey, you've seen my wife mad too?

Re:Hard luck (3, Funny)

misleb (129952) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912251)

Even with enough oxygen, you'd need to worry about global warming with all those greenhouse gases such as plasmafied helium...

-matthew

Re:Hard luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912285)

Just wait until you get your electrical bill. It seems like you have to have the AC on all the time!

Re:Hard luck (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912439)

Yeah but imagine how efficient a solar would be there.

Re:Hard luck (3, Funny)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912487)

10 - 20 percent efficient?

Re:Hard luck (2, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912373)

My impression of the first man to land on the sun....

[Jumps around frantically] Ouch! ouch! ouch! ouch!

Thank you folks. I'll be here all week. Please try the veal....

Re:Hard luck (1)

number1scatterbrain (976838) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912405)

I told you, Fried-Feet, ; only land on the Sun at night.

Re:Hard luck (-1, Troll)

SueAnnSueAnn (998877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912803)

I suppose Al Gore will find a way to blame this on Human Activity.
Look out here comes the World Oxygen Tax.

Sue

When it's time, It's time.
And it may be Sooner then you think.

Only a Abstract? (1, Insightful)

bhima (46039) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912095)

Pity that's just abstract. I'd like to read a little more on this.

Re:Only a Abstract? (0, Flamebait)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912809)

You're at the wrong site.. Help me think of ways that this is Microsoft's fault, or a good car analogy to explain it to a layman, or a way to turn it into a debate about religion, and if all else fails look for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Re:Only a Abstract? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912881)

it's like when you're driving in your car, and you have a full tank of gas. Then you turn on the wipers and discover you're out of windshield washer fluid. So you check the oil and you're down a quart. Then Bill Gates drunk drives in his Ferrari and runs over some religious wackos.

Re:Only a Abstract? (3, Funny)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912889)

Don't worry, we'll just blame it on the USA. They didn't sign the Kyoto protocol and now look at the mess we've got.

Re:Only a Abstract? (4, Funny)

kestasjk (933987) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912873)

Less oxygen around than we thought.. What process rapidly consumes oxygen? Hydrogen&Oxygen fuel cells used in rockets. Who recently flew into space? Microsoft billionaire Simonyi. What is produced in the reaction? Water vapor. What does water vapor in the atmosphere do? Act as a greenhouse gas and cause global warming. What will be one of the effects of global warming? Many more third world refugees. Who benefits from there being more third world refugees? Providers of technology for the OLPC project. Which company recently became part of the project? Microsoft!


.. So not worth it.

Goodness (4, Funny)

cimmer (809369) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912129)

This takes my breath away!

I guess Earth will be around for a little longer (2, Interesting)

iamacat (583406) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912139)

Before being swallowed by a red giant then? Or is amount of Helium proportionally larger?

Crisis? (5, Insightful)

tigheig (546423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912147)

While I can see how this may involve the need to change some parts of the theories of how a star works I'm not sure I see how, either here or in the referenced paper in the Astrophysical Journal, this qualifies as a "crisis". In essence they're saying that the results of their current observations indicate that previous theories need to be modified. How is this is a crisis?

Re:Crisis? (2, Funny)

SausageOfDoom (930370) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912169)

Because there's half as much oxygen as they thought! We're all going to die!

Re:Crisis? (2, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912213)

I think that if they have overestimated the amount of bright/visible matter in the universe, it might make a difference to how much dark matter they need to account for?

Re:Crisis? (2, Interesting)

IWannaBeAnAC (653701) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912529)

Maybe, but it wouldn't be that big a change, the estimated amount of dark matter is way more than the amount of visible matter anyway, needing a little bit more won't make much difference.

Re:Crisis? (2, Informative)

Agent Orange (34692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912633)

complete bullshit. This has nothing to do with dark matter, or the amount of visible mass. It merely tells you what percentage of the sun is comprised of oxygen. It is a very tiny amount. For every oxygen atom, there are about a 1000 hydrogen atoms and a hundred helium atoms.

The evidence for dark matter is based on other observations, like the way disk galaxy's rotate. In order to reproduce those observations, dark matter is required.

The estimate of the total amount of mass in various phases (e.g. stars, cold gas, hot gas, etc etc) in the universe has been done. You can read the paper here [arxiv.org] . Look at table 1. This is the contribution of all the different things to the total energy-density of the universe. What is amazing is the *tiny* fraction of the total energy-density that is made from baryons (visible, observable stuff). It's only about 4% or so. 23% is dark matter, and the rest is "dark energy".

Re:Crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912979)

It is a very tiny amount. For every oxygen atom, there are about a 1000 hydrogen atoms and a hundred helium atoms.

So, one part per 1100? How is that tiny? Sure, relatively, it's small, in comparison to the other constituents, but it's nowhere near tiny.

Re:Crisis? (1)

hitmark (640295) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912799)

makes me think of why the nazi's never got the bomb working. they overestimated how much fissionable material was needed...

Schrödinger's sun (1)

DarkEntity (1089729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912241)

I think they are saying now that we know this, the sun will decide to burn out. Sounds like a crisis to me. I think the only solution is to put the sun in a large enough box so as no energy escapes, so it will never burn out as long as we keep the box shut. What is the worst that could do?

Re:Schrödinger's sun (2, Informative)

Soul-Burn666 (574119) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912491)

You mean something along the lines of a Dyson Sphere [wikipedia.org] ?

Full Article (5, Informative)

Betelgeuse (35904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912161)

You can find the full article of this at the Astrophysics Preprint server. See here. [arxiv.org]

Damn those.. (1, Redundant)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912183)

Damn those revisionist scientists! Can't they just leave the sun alone?! Changing the oxygen content of stars sounds like it's dangerous!

I can finally feel good about myself! (5, Funny)

All_One_Mind (945389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912185)

and I thought my cascading errors were bad!

Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (4, Funny)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912207)

Wait for it...3, 2, 1:

We will now see a bunch of programmers and geeks try to display their scientific understandings and fail miserably. Usually because they read a chapter or 2 of Hawkings, or they know how to spell Fiene...Feinama...that really cool and funny fizicist...phyzi...fiscis...you know, someone who studies how the Universe works.

I think we'd be better off sharing bio-diesel recipes and gossiping about our favorite TV series that are due for cancellation.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (5, Funny)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912229)

or they know how to spell Fiene...Feinama...that really cool and funny fizicist...phyzi...fiscis...you know, someone who studies how the Universe works.

Fein, man, be a killjoy! :)

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (2, Interesting)

kiyoshilionz (977589) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912273)

I assume you speak of Richard Feynman, the physicist that played bongo drums at a strip club? The physisict who would ask girls at a bar if they would sleep with him before he even bought them a drink? The one who won the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics on quantum electrodynamics [wikipedia.org] ? The professor at CalTech?

All this is from his autobiography, a good read for all of geekdom, though to the OP's point it does make us feel way smarter than we really are.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (2, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912385)

It seems to me that if a slashdot reader doesn't know who Feynman was, well, then they're in the wrong place.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18913239)

The physisict who would ask girls at a bar if they would sleep with him before he even bought them a drink?

Dude, that's the only way. Girls want men, not suckers. Never buy them drinks if you want to fuck them.

Mod Parent Up (1)

icedcool (446975) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912431)

Ah man funny post. Mod parent up.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (1)

Fujisawa Sensei (207127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912441)

Some of us actually have a Physics degree; and a few are lucky enough to actually work in the field.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (1)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912509)

Sadly, we are the non-vocal minority in those kinds of topics.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (4, Funny)

bumptehjambox (886036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912627)

:polishes glasses:

The angle of the dangle is directionally proportionate to the heat of the meat and inversely proportionate to the sag of the bag. This is relevant, because the quintessential measure of man's cosmic purpose, and the understanding that comes of each discovery and revelation, is dwarfed by the new questions that then arise. In conclusion, one can conclude, that the effects on the world of physics are far-reaching but, in a closing statement, by nature, never insurmountable.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912659)

You forgot about chanting "I Hate George Bush" to everyone they know, even though their understanding of geopolitics is striaght propoganda from the pawns of George Soros.

Re:Cue the /. Pseudo Scientists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912867)

Is it illegal, immoral, or incorrect to hate George Bush? Call me a heretic if you want, but you lost me on that one.

Crisis? (4, Insightful)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912243)

Since when does needing to rethink a few scientific models, and go back and gather some data again now that we know we might have measured wrong constitue a crisis?

Re:Crisis? (1)

Rodness (168429) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912281)

Because you need a story about a crisis if you want to make the front page of slashdot :)

Re:Crisis? (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912381)

"Because you need a story about a crisis if you want to make the front page of slashdot :)"

Actually, its a clever slashvertisement to convince everyone that, now that the oxygen is running out, we have to stock up on "Perri-Air" brand oxygen. http://www.girlontheright.com/perriair.jpg [girlontheright.com]

Re:Crisis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912313)

Since when does needing to rethink a few scientific models, and go back and gather some data again now that we know we might have measured wrong constitue a crisis?


Well if you ignore things like the dark ages and other religious persecution of science then perhaps it hasn't happened yet, at least till politicians chose to make a radical attempt at stopping global climate change. Then the world might get flattened.

Re:Crisis? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912331)

We are in a crisis crisis. There's not enough. We need more. Import them if we have to.

Anyway, due to this oxygen crisis, I'm doing my part to reduce consumption...*Yawn*, I think I'll take a little nap.

Re:Crisis? (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912697)

.*Yawn*
Stop that! Do you want to get us all killed?

Re:Crisis? (1)

ms1234 (211056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912357)

Because clearly the intelligent design says so and if intelligent design says so then it must be so.

Re:Crisis? (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912527)

Since when does needing to rethink a few scientific models, and go back and gather some data again now that we know we might have measured wrong constitue a crisis?

Because the next step is to misinterpret what the story is saying, and then blame somebody. It goes like this: "Oh no, the sun is running out of oxygen. This is clearly caused by heavy industry on Earth." See? Crisis.

Re:Crisis? (2, Funny)

Guuge (719028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912909)

This is clearly caused by heavy industry on Earth.

Actually, the solar crisis is caused by light industry.

But you know, why don't we just invade the sun? If we don't fight the photons there then we'll have to fight them here at home.

Re:Crisis? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912919)

Aliens did it. The very same aliens that are going to shock freeze a small tropical island soon. See? Crysis.

Re:Crisis? (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912591)

Since when does needing to rethink a few scientific models, and go back and gather some data again now that we know we might have measured wrong constitue a crisis?

Oh no! Scientists may have to earn their grants!

Reminds me of a passage out of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [scribd.com] :

There's a place up ahead called Mescal Springs," he said. "As your attorney, I advise you to stop and take a swim." I shook my head. "It's absolutely imperative that we get to the Mint Hotel before the deadline for press registration," I said. "Otherwise, we might have to pay for our suite."

Oh, is *that* all. (3, Funny)

sycodon (149926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912249)

I thought it was gonna be something else Bush and Rove were at fault for.

Headline:

Sun has less Oxygen that thought, women and children hit hardest.

Re:Oh, is *that* all. (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912279)

I thought it was gonna be something else Bush and Rove were at fault for.

This time you can arguably blame Scott McNealy though...

Proofreading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912261)

Most of the hydrogen and helium was formed in the Big Bang, which means that oxygen is the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the interior of the stars.

The latter doesn't necessarily follow from the former. Helium abundance got a headstart due to the big bang, but I believe that helium is also the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion.

WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (4, Insightful)

kramer (19951) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912271)

Can we please reserve the term "crisis" for events where lives are at stake, and not when some astrophysicists are going to need to re-compute some scientific models?

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (2, Insightful)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912449)

Agreed. While we're at it, can we remove the slogan "war on (whatever)" and save war for its dismal-enough denotation?

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912611)

Can we please reserve the term "crisis" for events where lives are at stake, and not when some astrophysicists are going to need to re-compute some scientific models?
Agreed. While we're at it, can we remove the slogan "war on (whatever)" and save war for its dismal-enough denotation?
So... you guys want a War on Crisis?

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (1)

MollyB (162595) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912693)

So... you guys want a War on Crisis?
Hee hee. I guess we need a Czar to run it, too. aargh

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (1)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913331)

Sir, I salute you!

Re:WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE! (3, Interesting)

Thagg (9904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912667)

There is a long tradition of this in physics. My favorite was "The Ultraviolet Catastrophe", which forecast that all energy would be increasing in frequency.

The point of this kind of tounge-in-cheek hyperbole is to get people thinking about problems in a more creative, out-of-the-box way, and lead them toward solutions. The Ultraviolet Catastrophe led directly to Planck's quantum hypothesis -- which I don't think he even took as a serious solution at the time. But, it took that kind of wacky idea to get people over the hump of classical theory.

I think that the Solar Oxygen Crisis people are trying to do something similar.

Thad Beier

Get the paper here (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912275)

The paper [arxiv.org] . (TFA has a link to the ApJ version, but it tells me that I have an institutional subscription, which presumably means that those outside of academia do not.)

Re:Get the paper here (1)

Ambitwistor (1041236) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912289)

Oops, somehow I managed to overlook this comment [slashdot.org] .

Connective Content... (1)

bitRAKE (739786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912305)

Maybe, someone can clue in eveyone else on exactly how fundamental less oxygen is to particular theories? Do any of them just seem like crap now, or can all the numbers just be slashed to make the same point?

I'd type more, but I'm already feeling like a highschool student transcibing my thoughts into a stream of consciousness journal. Offending single digit percentages of the population or less seems safe.

Re:Connective Content... (5, Informative)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912451)

Maybe, someone can clue in eveyone else on exactly how fundamental less oxygen is to particular theories? Do any of them just seem like crap now, or can all the numbers just be slashed to make the same point?

Oxygen is a by-product of nuclear fusion in some stars. Hydrogen is burnt to helium in the main-sequence part of a star's life, helium is burnt to carbon in the red giant phase, and after that there are a sequence of short-lived reactions that only take place in the larger stars, in which carbon is burnt oxygen and oxygen is burnt to a whole bunch of things [astrophysi...ctator.com] .

The nuclear physics of all this is well understood, so if the amount of oxygen in the Sun is less than we'd anticipated then that means we've got something wrong about how we understand the insides of stars, about the pressures and temperatures that hold there. It might mean that fewer stars ever get around to producing oxygen, or perhaps that more stars make it all the way to burning it up again, or it might tell us there was something unusual about the nebula our own sun came from. It means, basically, that there's some interesting astrophysics waiting to be done, and that's enough to make astrophysicists very happy :-)

Re:Connective Content... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912861)

So.... in fact.... the exact opposite of a crisis.

We thought we understood the solar interior well.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912497)

The general consensus for decades has been that the solar interior and its basic nuclear chemistry was pretty well understood. This finding, if it holds up, will affect virtually all solar physics relative to our own solar system and much, perhaps most, of the physics we imagine going on in remote stars. For instance, the solar neutrino problem (not seeing enough of the right kinds of neutrinoes here on earth) may be strongly affected by this - we thought there was a "neutrino problem" precisely because we were extremely confident we knew the processes in the sun to high precision. This means everything has to be looked at, again, in regard to solar neutrinoes, and most other aspects of solar physics. As large a disagreement from previous results as this means we really don't understand the sun as well as we previously thought - your model is not just a few per cent off, but is off by multiples......

Re:We thought we understood the solar interior wel (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913249)

we were extremely confident we knew the processes in the sun to high precision.

We've been doing astrophysics for, what, 100 years?

How much hubris do these people have to be extremely confident that they well understand something that they can't even directly study?

Re:Connective Content... (2, Interesting)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912703)

It actually impacts a lot of theories, and definitely, just 'slashing some numbers' like a wal-mart price rollback is not all tht people should expect.

      Fred Hoyle's work would be the most obvious. Hoyle was the first physicist to model nucleosynthesis in stars (1948).* His theory there still seems sound (or the math behind it does, and the US, the British, and the former Soviet Union all spent more money testing some of that math than on all other scientific research ever funded by those governments, put together), and one implication is that Oxygen and all the other heavier elements, were produced almost exclusively in stars, not in the big bang. The current age of the sun, and it's projected lifespan, are both based partly on putting the mis-measured amount of Oxygen into Hoyle's equations.
        Hoyle is also known for having proposed a lot of rather odd theories later in his career, including some revised steady state theories, panspermia hypothisi, and so on. Some of those are based partly on his earlier math, and it's at least possible that this discovery will make some of the 'nutbar' Hoyle ideas less 'nutbar'. Hoyle's theories are even cited by some as real, solidly scientific proof of intelligent design. The impact there, whether it's real science or misinterpretation, would doubtless be phenominal, even (eu)catastropic.

* There's actually a number of others involved, people such as Fowler, Chandrasekhar, the Alpher/Bethe/Gamow gang, and still others - I'm simplfying a bit in giving Sir Fred all the credit.

      Anyway, the sun may be less far along it's lifespan than we thought, possibly farther from the Helium Flash/red giant stage. (It still just about has to be about 5 billion years old, because independant geologic evidence suggests the earth is about 4.5 billion years old itself). So if the sun, and presumably related stars age more slowly than thought, then this possibly changes both supernova abundance and predicted spectrum and mass ratio numbers, and we have used those numbers to estimate the distance to distant galaxies, and the overall size and age of the universe.
        It's even quite possible that this change in Oxygen numbers means our estimates of the mass of the universe, it's age, and so on are all skewed, and super-novae may happen less frequently so that will also reduce our accuracy of measurement and mean it will take us longer to get enough new data to check the new predictions to the same accuracy as the ones we now doubt. Thus, this news not only predicts we may have to revise a lot of figures, but that it will be a bit harder to do it right than it appeared the first time.
        All the 'new physics bits', i.e. 'dark matter', 'dark energy', etc. all need refigured if the age and mass of the universe get refigured significantly. Some of them may be superfluous. Some new ideas may be needed. Yes, this could just possibly be that big (although it may well be much less significant in the end).

Re:Connective Content... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18913155)

Well, for starters, the sun is a mass of incandescent gas. It's sort of like a gigantic nuclear furnace, where hydrogen is built into helium. And this all happens at a temperature of millions of degress.

Is there any risk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912333)

Is there any risk that, due to this miscalculation, that the sun might explode (or worse?!)

Reckless scientists!! You ruined everything.

Too bad... (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912377)

Too bad we can't just fly up to the sun and take a sample, eh?

Re:Too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912415)

We did. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Too bad... (1)

AbsoluteXyro (1048620) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912537)

That mission collected samples from the Solar Wind. It didn't even go to the sun, much less retrieve samples of Solar Atmosphere.

Re:Too bad... (1)

KoldKompress (1034414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912853)

Havn't you been reading? We can't, there isn't enough oxygen, we'd suffocate
I hope I read the article correct in that there isn't as much oxygen being produced as originally thought, otherwise this pathetic joke will fail on several levels

Solar warming (4, Funny)

kitzilla (266382) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912513)

Yet more evidence that Solar Warming is really happening. Before you know it, the solar polar ice caps will melt, covering the entire surface of the sun to a depth of 23 feet and extinguishing its flames. Then we're completely screwed.

I can see why the article calls this a "crisis." Scoff at your own peril.

*Crisis* (1)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913105)

Of course it's a crisis! The United States must immediately launch a mission to Sun crewed by Hollywood stereotypes to drop a nuclear missile into the sun to restore the oxygen balance. Of course a nuclear missile couldn't do that, that's why they have to fly through a narrow gulley around the equator and drop the missle into a special hole.

you using linux? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912535)

man, you must be one dumb faggot.

This just in... (1, Flamebait)

Quarters (18322) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912539)

Humans once again find out that they don't know nearly as much about anything as previously thought. Don't panic, though, folks. They will still use their miniscule amount of knowledge to extrapolate seemingly dire trends and predict yet another impending global catastrophe.

* Global Cooling is going to lead to another Ice Age! Wait...that was 30 years ago... Now it's GLOBAL WARMING IS GOING TO GET US!!!

* Electromagnetic Radiation Causes Cancer! Don't live near power lines!! Wait...that was 20 years ago... Now it's BUY THESE MAGNETIC BRACELETS AND MATRESS PADS! MAGNETISM LEADS TO HEALTH AND PROSPERITY!

Re:This just in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912579)

* Global Cooling is going to lead to another Ice Age! Wait...that was 30 years ago... Now it's GLOBAL WARMING IS GOING TO GET US!!!

Except that it was just a very few number of scientists who said this at the time. I believe it was one magazine who decided to make this its cover story to sell copies.

* Electromagnetic Radiation Causes Cancer! Don't live near power lines!! Wait...that was 20 years ago... Now it's BUY THESE MAGNETIC BRACELETS AND MATRESS PADS! MAGNETISM LEADS TO HEALTH AND PROSPERITY!

Actually, there is not a conclusive answer to that yet. Recent studies are showing at least a slight correlation.

There is no major scientific body that is recommending the use of magnets for health benefits.

You see fit to slander science when you see fit, but you are taking advantage of prior scientific research right now (computers) to type out that diatribe. Pathetic.

Re:This just in... (1)

Matteo522 (996602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913111)

Except that it was just a very few number of scientists who said this at the time. I believe it was one magazine who decided to make this its cover story to sell copies.

Eh. Scientists have just gotten more savvy about how to get grant money than they were before. "Hmmm... I want to do research on the mating behavior of centipedes. Grant denied? WTF? Okay.... I want to do research on the mating behavior of centipedes.... IN RELATION TO GLOBAL WARMING. Cha-ching!"

You see fit to slander science when you see fit, but you are taking advantage of prior scientific research right now (computers) to type out that diatribe. Pathetic.

::eyeroll::

Re:This just in... (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913041)

"* Global Cooling is going to lead to another Ice Age! "

sigh, do you relize you are a product of marketing and as such have forgotten how to think for yourself?

Global cooling was NEVER seriously considered among scientists, and was created to sell magazines.

"* Electromagnetic Radiation Causes Cancer! "

again, no scientific body says that.

Don't confuse science* with marketing that exploits fears.

*I do doubt you would recognize science if it bit you on the ass, but one can always hope.

HOLY F*** (0, Troll)

joshier (957448) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912553)

HOLY FUCK GUYS This is fucking crazy.. dog eat dog now.. I'm fucking stealing all your oxygen now.. I'm wise, I'm stealing all the oxygen in plastic cannisters, oh fuck, I've just given my secrets away, fuck that I don't care it's all mine, I'm the fucking winner here!

When I read things like this ... (2, Funny)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912555)

I am always reminded of the cartoon characters that run off a cliff, but they don't fall until they notice they aren't standing on anything. Maybe now that we notice this, the universe will implode or something. I hope not, at least until the end of the weekend - I hate it when my weekends get cut short.

How the solar oxygen abundance is derived (4, Interesting)

Agent Orange (34692) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912559)

This is not a new issue in astrophysics, and has been floating since 2004. There are two basic ways to measure the abundances. One is by looking at hte oscillations in the sun, and using those to probe the solar interior. This is called "helioseismology", since it is very similar to the way seismologists figure out the structure and composition of hte earth, by observing seismic waves.

The other way is to take a spectrum of the sun (which is really just the solar photosphere -- the outer layers, or "atmosphere"). To interpret the spectra, one needs a model, which is used to derive the abundance (how much oxygen there is).

Now...until recently the models used for deriving abundances were simple 1-dimensional models, which made some assumptions (such as "local thermodynamic equilibrium") and include some fudge factors to account for the fact that you're solving a 3-d problem in 1-d.

The oxygen problem arises when you use accurate, 3-D models, which don't make the LTE assumption mentioned above -- called non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (NLTE). When one compares the abundances from the 3d NLTE models with what is expected from the helioseismology predictions, the discrepancy arises.

Others have posted the link to the full journal article on the pre-print server (here [arxiv.org] ). The introduction of this paper is a pretty good summary of the problem, albeit intended for a scientific audience.

Most frequently produced... (1)

hpa (7948) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912567)

Oxygen is the third most abundant atom in the universe, behind hydrogen and helium. Most of the hydrogen and helium was formed in the Big Bang, which means that oxygen is the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the interior of the stars.

Faulty logic there; in fact, helium is by far the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion in stars. Just because a boatload of helium was produced in the Big Bang itself does not mean that more oxygen than helium is produced in stars.

#3 ?? That doesn't make sence. (-1)

B5_geek (638928) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912595)

Oxygen is the third most abundant atom in the universe, behind hydrogen and helium.
Lithium is #3 followed in order by:
#4 Beryllium (9.012182 amu)
#5 Boron (10.811 amu)
#6 Carbon (12.011 amu)
#7 Nitrogen (14.00674 amu)
#8 Oxygen (15.9994 amu)

Re:#3 ?? That doesn't make sence. (1)

DrKyle (818035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912661)

This table [npl.co.uk] would seem to support the #3 status.

Re:#3 ?? That doesn't make sence. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18912941)

You are only talking about the relative mass index of the atoms, which is not necessarily the same as their relative abundances. IAAPStudent and my formation about this is limited, but here's what I know:
H is the most abundant, being by definition a single proton.
He is the second most abundant, most of it having been formed during the big bang (2 protons, 2 neutrons).
The next one in the chain, however, is not Li or even Be as one might think - the most massive stars use He to create carbon - through a few different pathways using a few intermediary, unstable nucleis - while Li, Be and Bo are generally byproducts of the disintegration of some of those unstable nucleis, making them actually rarer than C itself.
What I don't know is why O is third while C isn't - I'd guess this is because most of the C is then used to create oxygen in another fusion chain involving C and He, whose rate is relatively quick considering only 2 nuclei are involved. However, C itself is a product of a long chain involving 3 He and many intermediary steps, which makes sure that the reaction rate is slow. Thus, a few stars (that aren't massive enough to continue the chain) will stop at carbon production, but all of the more massive stars will gobble up the carbon as soon as it is created to use it to fusion He and C into O.

Re:#3 ?? That doesn't make sence. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18913043)

Are you retarded? That's the order of the elements in the periodic table (alternatively the order of the elements in terms of increasing atomic mass). Just because an element has a lower atomic mass doesnt mean it has to be more abundant in the universe.

There should be a rule that only people who have completed grade 10 science should be allowed to post on slashdot.

In related news (2, Funny)

ToxicBanjo (905105) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912675)

SOL Macrosystems released a statement today about a cascade error in it's Ox2 processing core... more at 11.

Church membership suffers as a result (1)

Jim in Buffalo (939861) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912801)

As a result of the crisis, membership in the Church of Solar Oxygen has dropped dramatically, with church leaders fearing a splintering of the faithful into rival factions.

EMERGENCY! (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 7 years ago | (#18912839)

Quick! Everyone hold your breath before the oxygen runs out!

Artifacts in Astrophysics (1)

pln2bz (449850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913057)

From the paper:

Obviously, there is no physical reason to expect the actual abundance to exhibit spatial variations in the solar photosphere. We must then conclude that this is an artifact of the analysis, probably due to imperfect modeling especially in the presence of magnetic fields (notice that the granulation pattern is not visible in the abundance images).
I suppose this is how people deal with unexpected results in astrophysics? ... We didn't expect to see that, so it must be a problem with the analysis or some pesky magnetic fields rather than the theory itself ...

I imagine you could prove just about anything by appending that to the end of every paper.

Al Gore is very upset (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18913223)

Algor doesn't like abundances of ANY naturally occurring atmospheric compounds.
This is going to make him VERY upset.

No it doesn't (1)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 7 years ago | (#18913229)

Most of the hydrogen and helium was formed in the Big Bang, which means that oxygen is the element most frequently produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the interior of the stars.
No, that doesn't follow. Helium is still the element most frequently produced in nuclear fusion, even if most of it was formed in the Big Bang.
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