Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Who Is The Man Who Lives Inside The Sun?

This is my sixth answer to the weird questions I asked about a week ago. I allow myself just 15 minutes to respond and whatever I write during this time I post here (sometimes with the minimum amount of editing).

Mr Hot*, the man who lives inside the sun, has hydrogen to burn. He smiles and spits it out. It gives rise to a solar wind and then a firestorm wavering at the poles. If only I could ride this out. If only I could launch myself like a surfer and catch this wind and let it take me to the farthest reaches, past planets and satellites, asteroids and comets. Like the aurora borealis I guess I would sparkle and waver too when I hit the atmosphere. Ah, so many forbidden transitions giving out so much light - white yellow green red. See me and wonder.

He is becoming smaller, though, the man that lives inside the sun. Wizened. Well at least the core of him. As his inner part is consumed so his outer parts expand. Hydrogen becomes helium. More and more of it, hotter and hotter, until it burns too, exploding out again, a helium flame, cooler than hydrogen, and redder. So many metamorphoses. From the yellow of youth to the red of middle age. A red giant. A cool temper. Lighter. Weaker. So weak some of his planets will have escaped from him. The rest he looks on benignly and swallows a little with his fire.

Then what next for the man in the sun? I hear that he might become a little mad and throw off his outer layers. It comes to us all, I suppose, the senility of old age. He will throw off his clothes and expose his core -and then he will fade. A white dwarf. His true self exposed to the cosmos. I was great, he will tell anyone that listens. In my day.

*Hat tip to Andrew.


Blogger Andrew said...

You forgot to mention his name is Mr Hot, Clare.

Tue Jul 24, 11:43:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah yes, Andrew, I forgot to mention that. I'll make amends immediately.

Tue Jul 24, 11:50:00 am  
Blogger Andrew said...

However pleased that amendment makes me, Clare, you can be sure tis a mere echo of the satisfaction it provides to Mr Hot.

Tue Jul 24, 01:39:00 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Oh dear.
Ive just taken m'cardie off.
Is that A Sign, Clare?

Tue Jul 24, 05:05:00 pm  
Blogger Kay Cooke said...

Three more fascinating chapters in the series. Love reading your absorbing takes on the questions. You know a lot about the brain - is it a bit like exploring a country? I wish I knew as much as you do ... all those neurons and synapses ...

Wed Jul 25, 09:50:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Andrew - my satisfaction in the knowledge that I have accorded Mr Hot more satisfaction knows no bounds.

Jan: Yes, I should be very worried if I were you. It's the first sign. I refer you to Sylvia Plath's Bell Jar and the roof sequence. First it was her cardie and then her slips and frocks. Clothes-rejection has to be monitored very carefully.

CB: Thank you! You are very kind. I did a lot of reading about the brain for a book I wanted to write and learnt a lot then. But really I think it is one of these subjects where a little knowledge takes you far because so little is known in general. It is indeed like exploring a country - an unknown country - and very exciting because I think you can very soon find yourself right behind the pioneers.

Wed Jul 25, 10:53:00 am  

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