Sunday, October 25, 2009

And As We Look Into The Sun...

Among the many things my parents urged me not to do when I was younger, one was to never look directly into the sun. It was so fascinating with its brilliance and colors. Being the clever one, I found that it must help to wear sunglasses when I gaze into the sun. However, they still yelled at me. Why? It can’t be that, right? What does looking into the sun do to you?

The theory that looking into the sun can cause blindness is spot on. It can cause a lot more damage, though. One condition the sun creates is called solar retinopathy, or the burning of the retina in your eye. The problem occurs not from the brightness of the star, but its massive outputs of ultraviolet radiation. The overdoses can cause the macula, the part of the eye that focuses on central vision instead of your peripherals, to fail after even brief exposures to the sun. Though the damage is sufficient, unless the parts of the eye are destroyed, they can mainly be repaired by medicine.

What if the sun is being eclipsed by the Moon? With special glasses, the eclipse can be viewed safely. However, without protection when our Moon passes by the sun, you can become instantly blind.

Even though the sun is damaging, some people actually believe it helps them. In a practice called sungazing, people believe the sun provides nourishment to their bodies. One man, Hira Ratan Manek, claims he hasn’t had to use food for nutrients in nearly 15 years. People also believe sunlight can be converted into energy in something similar to photosynthesis. Of course, none of this is scientifically proven.

So, when your parents tell you to not look at the sun NO MATTER WHAT, listen to them!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Mr. Hawking

Discover’s article regarding the life and achievements of physicist Steven Hawking was an excellent profile. Though it was very long, I felt it went through his life very methodically. If I were to give it a grade, it would have to be a 90. The lede is terrific, setting the scene of an enormous figure, only to have it be someone who can barely move his hand enough to signal his speech machine. I give that 20 of 20. For content, if there was anything I needed to know about Hawking, I know it now. From his days of college partying to marriage and contracting ALS to his theories, no stone was left unturned in his life. That also receives a 20 of 20. The writing structure and organization both receive full credit as well. His life was spelled out beautifully from the start to today, and the writing was great. The only quarrel I have with this article is the clarity of the scientific information. I don’t really know what half his material was, and though I understand it was concerning astrophysics, it may have been better if it was simplified. That gets a 10. Overall, it was a great and interesting article.