Maggie Koerth-Baker at 2:04 pm Tue, Aug 2, 2011
ADVERTISE AT BOING BOING!
The sun seems neither hard nor squishy, merely indifferent.
it is neither as the question of the sun is whether the sun is prickly or goo http://www.freshminds.com/animation/alan_watts_prickles.html
I immediately thought of Gumby when I heard Prickles and Goo.
Hard implies a solid. Squishy a liquid or fluid solid. The sun is not a solid, liquid, or gas, but plasmatic explosions. So the first question must be, “What does the surface of an explosion feel like?”
There should be no question about this. Since, as we know from They Might Be Giants, “The sun is a mass of incandescent gas” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3JdWlSF195Y). We know that a gas is not a solid, therefore it’s squishy. Q.E.D
Unfortunately you forgot to take into account TMBG’s follow-up tune in which we learn “The sun is a miasma of incandescent plasma.” So maybe not so obviously squishy.
Doh! Has science gone and changed my paradigm again? Next thing you know, you’ll be telling me there are only 8 planets in our solar system. I have obviously failed to keep up with TMBG and the rest of the scientific community’s changing attitudes towards our sun! I’ll go renew my subscription to Cosmology Today, or whatever is the leading periodical.
The question of the sun being hard or squishy is too general if one wanted to seriously answer it. Obviously the sun creates heavier elements that accumulate in the core, so the center could be considered hard. The various other layers can be harder to determine whether they are hard or “squishy” as the answer depends on one’s interpretation of data/observations/assumptions.
I believe the easiest way to get to an answer would be to make an analogy of the sun’s properties and scale it down to a similar object that one could more directly observe.
4-year-old: So did you get an answer? Is the Sun hard or squishy?
Parent: Who wants ice cream?
The discussion on Reddit is fascinating, whether it yields an answer or not.
What I’m getting from the discussion is, it’s like a water balloon inside a giant cloud.
We tried to answer that question in the 1950′s, when NASA chucked a boatload of monkeys at the sun with strict orders to come right back and tell us what it felt like. Well, the little commies never did come back, so we never got our answer.
Joe McCarthy got up-in-arms over it and, after a few years of generally being quite mad, we let the matter drop and instead chucked a few people at the moon (they came back and said it was powdery).
Forget the hard/squishy dichotomy. Enquiring minds want to know what *flavour* it is.
The collective genius of Reddit is that it’s so bizarre that even people who know better are so fascinated by the carnival that they hang around … then they’re fascinated when anything substantial comes up.
I think someone should go up there and check it out. I’ll go tomorrow night and report back my findings. Work for you?
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