Stump The Beaver: March/April 2015
Mar 17, 2015 10:21AM ● Published by Erik Dittmann
Jenna from Fox Lake writes: I understand Amazon is toying with the idea of using flying drones to rapidly deliver on-line orders. So, here's my question: When our Sun goes supernova, will I still have time to order and receive something from Amazon before the Earth is destroyed?
Answer: Sorry to dash your hopes of maxing out your credit card at Amazon, but our Sun will never go supernova. It simply isn't large enough. Instead it will just grow larger over time (as we experience global warming) and then eventually shed some pounds thanks to the "nebula" diet.
Jenna asks a follow-up question: So, is our Sun causing global warming?
Answer: Yes, the sun is expanding and becoming more luminous. The size of our Sun is a balancing act between a number of pressures including gravity, atomic electrical forces, and the explosive nuclear reactions that provide us with light. For billions of years, the Sun has been boosting the heat Earth receives at the rate of 1% every 100 million years. In another 600 million years, the added heat will cause much of our carbon dioxide to disappear – resulting in many plants dying off, along with humanity and beavers. By then humans might harness the ability to alter the orbit of Earth, saving us from catastrophe, or beavers might evolve into advanced creatures that are no longer dependent upon the Sun – perhaps able to survive in outer space nourished solely by gravitational waves and reruns of The Beaverly Hillbillies.
Inquisitive Jenna asks yet another follow-up question: Will the Sun ever cool down?
Answer: Yes, but you will need to eat really healthy/bad-tasting food in order to live that long. Our sun is a hydrogen furnace, and right now, at the age of 4.5 billion years, it has used up almost half of its fuel. As it grows older, it will eventually, at the age of 10 billion years, become a red giant and a trip around Beaver Dam Lake will feel like a Caribbean cruise. However, after the red giant blows off steam in nebula fashion, the Sun will shrink down to about the size of Earth and become a white dwarf star. Cosmologists call this phenomenon the "Marie Osmond NutriSystem Phase of the Sun."
Kirby from Fox Lake writes: I'd like to become more spontaneous. What's the best, 100% foolproof, step-by-step plan?
Answer: A strict formula for becoming more spontaneous? Man, you don't stand a chance!