Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Let there be light

Here's something really awesome, the Southern lights as seen from space, kinda reminds me of all those sci-fi movies that featured green forcefields that pop up around the aliens to prevent us shooting at them, and I suppose that's exactly what our Earth's gravitational field and atmosphere is for us.

The light is produced when sub-atomic particles hurtling at us in the Solar wind actually penetrate our magnetic field and collide with molecules of Oxygen and Nitrogen in the upper atmosphere causing them to emit photons. The photons are essentially a release of packets of energy as the molecules (or parts of them) move up and down  between different states of excitement.

Just to follow on my train of thought from the previous post, i.e. that some people seem to require mystery or "faith" in order to appreciate the universe. My own feeling is that the fact that we know all this about something as fleeting as an aurora doesn't make this natural phenomenon any less beautiful or luminous, it makes me appreciate it more.


Elizabeth said...

I have been so bad about leaving comments in your blog these days, sorry. I do read it when it comes up in my feed but am often too lazy to come in and comment. thanks for keeping up the good work, though.

I am happy for all your recent commercial successes too. Well deserved.

Steve Borthwick said...

You are always welcome E - I don't get over to your place as much as I'd like either. Although I must say it's all much more "grown up" now that Marty doesn't lob his infamous "troll's" into the mix; perhaps we need the odd flame war to keep our interest going, a topic to post about perhaps.