Friday, May 1, 2009

Sun Hits 100 Year Low in Activity

Scientists are increasingly puzzled and worried as the sun continues to remain increasingly quiet.  Solar wind has hit a 50-year low and sunspot activity is at a 100-year low.  While the long term trends are downward, predictions are difficult. However, recent average daily sunspot numbers show a precipitous drop beginning in 2004 that has continued to the present. The average daily sunspot number for 2004 was 68.6, but dropped to a staggering 4.7 for 2008.


While many experts claim this is an extended low at the bottom of a normal or slightly longer than usual 11-year sunspot cycle, others are not so sure. In the United States, congressional Democrats are threatening hearings on the current state of sunspots, noting that the precipitous drop in sunspot activity occurred during the second Bush administration.  While avoiding direct accusations, staffers note that the timing is suspicious and some members are calling for investigations to identify responsible administration officials. When asked about the sunspot crisis, anonymous Obama administration officials refused comment but noted that they had inherited the problem from the previous administration who had eight years to tackle the problem and did nothing. Upon learning that the sunspot deficit posed no threat to the operation of Blackberries or Twitter, the anonymous official failed to understand the reason for concern.


Meanwhile global warming advocates are working furiously to formulate a theory linking man-made greenhouse gases and the drop in sunspot activity. Although there is no known mechanism for greenhouse gases trapped in earth's atmosphere to influence the much larger and distant sun, activists are certain there must be a connection and have already begun developing a new movie warning of the dangers. Former vice president Al Gore is expected to narrate.


Not all researchers find the sun's lack of activity unusual or alarming. Independent researcher, philosopher, and patchouli merchant Harry "Sunshine" Morgan has an alternative theory.


"Our sun is a rather young star in astronomical terms, just an adolescent, really. Teenagers get acne as part of their growing up. So maybe sunspots are like solar zits. Now our sun is growing older and getting out of that awkward teenage phase, so the zits on his face are clearing up. We shouldn't be worried about the sunspots disappearing, we should be happy. Our sun is becoming a man!"

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