This entry was posted by Monday, 2 March, 2009
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Courtesy of, photo by Gaetan Lee


Nonrenewable energy’s going fast so we’re trying to get on top of renewables such as wind, tide and sun. Of these, the sun is the hardest to ignore. It’s REALLY out there. Only about 1 astronomical unit – EXACTLY one astromical unit, actually – away but that’s the equivalent of about 90 million miles. Crows don’t fly fast – especially once they leave the atmosphere. So a long, long way as the crow flies.

How can the sun send energy so far? And what is it sending? I hope you weren’t wondering about that before I brought it up. If you were, you may be at risk of becoming a physicist, God help you.

Radiant energy from the sun is electromagnetic radiation which consists of streams of photons. Depending on its frequency, electromagnetic radiation can be light, radio waves or heat. The radiation from the sun includes visible light as well as infrared (heat).

Photons are a form of “messenger particle”. They taxi light, heat, radio, tv – all forms of electromagnetic radiation across the entire universe unless stopped by something which can capture them. There are also messenger particles for gravity (gravitrons) as well as for the other fundamental forces. Anyway, photons deliver the goods – the energy from the sun – in small packets of energy which are captured by plants. Plants make air. We breath air. All is well.
You know this stuff. I’m just winding up for the pitch and… here it comes! A lazy slider right under home plate! I try not to rely excessively on links, but this is clear and will, I know, explain both forms of solar, thermal and photovoltaic, better than I would.

2 Responses to “Solar”

  1. dick Pirozzolo

    Awesome, I can’t get through to TIME to cancel my subscription, but the Sun can send photons all that distance, light the earth, keep us warm, etc. etc.

    But what happens to all the photons once they are done. Where do the go — pile up somewhere with my letters to TIME magazine’s subscription department.

    ; )

  2. Daniel

    Mr Pirozzolo has very nicely brought out the problem between science and human nature. When human nature goes bad and does something stupid, irritating or much worse, it is readily noticed. However, human nature has also provided great artistic moments, great humanitarian movements, urge to understand our world, and the desire to apply scientific knowledge for human betterment. I am ever hopeful that some of the advances through science with communication, medicine and understanding the human mind might improve our human relations.

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