A song about the sun (no, not that one)

We all know that the sun is a mass of incandescent gas, but this song--performed by The Chromatics, an acapella group that includes three astrophysicists from the Goddard Space Flight Center--gets a little more in-depth.

(Thanks, Mark Day!)

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  1. Not trying to be rude with this observation, but did you ever notice that the standard a cappella singer body movement is the “taking a dump” pose?

    See, jerks like me are why I have stage fright.

  2. To be fair, They Might Be Giants have been correcting themselves while on the “Here Comes Science” tour, noting that “Why Does The Sun Shine?” is several decades old, and the science is out-of-date. They now play an additional song, “The Sun is a Miasma of Incandescent Plasma”.

  3. Logged on to leave the same comment as didymos. TMBG has released an addendum on “Here Comes Science.”

  4. That was great! I was steeled for something painful and embarrassing (c’mon, I used to work with a lot of physicists) but it was neither!

  5. Slightly off-topic: Because a great deal of modern physics is predicated on 19th century work that presumes that the sun is gaseous, most proofs of this are logically circular.

    Simple observation shows that the sun’s surface behaves as a liquid. Watch, for example, NASA videos of solar flares; the droplets, waves, splashing etc. are visually consistent with matter in the condensed or liquid phase.

    Here is the abstract of Robitaille’s paper “The Solar Photosphere: Evidence for Condensed Matter”, available online:

    The stellar equations of state treat the Sun much like an ideal gas, wherein the photosphere is viewed as a sparse gaseous plasma. The temperatures inferred in the solar interior give some credence to these models, especially since it is counterintuitive that an object with internal temperatures in excess of 1 MK could be existing in the liquid state. Nonetheless, extreme temperatures, by themselves, are insufficient evidence for the states of matter. The presence of magnetic fields and gravity also impact the expected phase. In the end, it is the physical expression of a state that is required in establishing the proper phase of an object. The photosphere does not lend itself easily to treatment as a gaseous plasma.
    The physical evidence can be more simply reconciled with a solar body and a photosphere in the condensed state. A discussion of each physical feature follows: 1) the thermal spectrum, 2) limb darkening, 3) solar collapse, 4) the solar density, 5) seismic activity, 6) mass displacement, 7) the chromosphere and critical opalescence, 8) shape, 9) surface activity, 10) photospheric/coronal flows, 11)photospheric imaging, 12) the solar dynamo, and 13) the presence of Sun spots. The explanation of these findings by the gaseous models often requires an improbable combination of events, such as found in the stellar opacity problem. In sharp contrast, each can be explained with simplicity by the condensed state.

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