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Inside a Sun

I looked up some pictures of the sun the other day. The Royal Swedish Academy’s Institute for Solar Physics made some nice photos with the Swedish Solar Telescope in 2002. That’s a sunspot in the middle, and those tube-like lines flowing into it are called spicules, or solar flux tubes. (I’ve long hypothesized that these spicules are in some sense alive.)

The sun-hungry scientists at the Institute for Solar Physics also made a four megabyte QuickTime video version of this picture, which is only a couple of seconds long, it’s 76 frames, covering a time duration of half an hour on the Sun. And you can find some more sunspot pix and videos at this Göttingen site.

I always like to think about making journeys into the sun. There’s been some books along these lines, but none of them is quite what I want. I’d like to be able to go inside the sun and merge into the scene and not be thinking “too hot.”

In my novel Frek and the Elixir, I did write about my character Frek making a trip to the inside of a star. It’s almost what I want, but I’d like to write another piece about this. In Frek, he’s wearing a special spacesuit made of “tweet,” with a “Sun Protection Factor ten-to-the-thirtieth power. Oinkment to shield your pigment.” He dives in with some friends.

The excess of light spilled over into Frek’s ears, nose, and sense of touch. Though his eyes were functioning, they were overloaded to the point of showing ragged checkerboards of feedback. His suit was using his other sense organs to process the overflow. It was almost like being a blind person, modeling reality from sound, smell and touch.

The sound of the sun was as the warm hubbub of human voices in a crowded room, with the buzz and throb of great machineries in chambers far below. The touch of the sun was like the bubbles and currents in the foamy white spot at the base of a waterfall. Tickling taps danced along the shell of Frek’s suit; little swirls plucked at his limbs. The smell of the sun was like a garden on a hot summer day, with vagrant breezes bringing a pleasant palette of scents. Frek could pick out roses, bean-blossoms, an anyfruit tree and the vinegary smell of a turmite mound.

[And then, to leave the star, they ride a solar flare.] It was incredible, a Nantucket sleigh ride through rough seas of sound, a romp up the blossom-scented stairway to heaven, a barefoot scamper across a million-note chrome xylophone.

I got a macro lens for Xmas. This picture here is of my cup of tea. I’d never noticed the cracks in the glaze before. And, see, there’s a path into the sun right along the lip of the liquid.

2 Responses to “Inside a Sun”

  1. MarcL Says:

    The macro lens is YOU, Rudy.

  2. MarcL Says:

    When I was a kid, my dad had a book from his own boyhood, an astronomy book featuring a group of kids on a rocketship touring the solar system, educationally. At one point they barely keep from falling into the sun by pulling up really hard on the handbrake. I remember the ghastly illustration of sweat pouring from the desperate children as they came too close.


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