back to article Scientists crack spotless Sun mystery

Scientists reckon they've cracked the mystery as to why during 2008-2009, the Sun was completely devoid of sunspots for almost two years. This deepest solar minimum in a century, marking the end of sunspot cycle 23, saw the Sun's global magnetic field and solar wind weaken, allowing dangerous cosmic rays to sweep the inner …


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  1. Naughtyhorse

    It also prompted a cooling and collapse of Earth's upper atmosphere

    you had better not let lewis hear you talk like that

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I always get a good laugh when someone tries to argue ...

      ... that climate scientists in some way "ignore" the effects of the sun on global temperatures and therefore global warming is just caused by the sun getting a bit hotter or some change in the sunspots. I wonder where they think all the energy inputs come from in the scientists' climate models.

  2. Barely registers

    Put another way...

    Scientist writes computer program which successfully outputs past measurements, yet makes no predictions about what cycle 24 holds in store.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It's considered good practice to finish testing and revising your model ...

      ... before leaping to making premature predictions.

      If you read the supplementary data PDF to the nature letter, you'll see that they're still trying to establish whether their model represents what the meridional flows within the sun were actually doing. The model does reproduce the observed sunspot minimum, and therefore suggests a possible mechanism, but the authors are not claiming that it has yet been shown that this was the actual mechanism.

      1. Barely registers

        "Scientist cracks mystery" - sounds confident to me

        An interesting comment on the Nature site by a David Hathway is here:

        suggesting that the model, whilst generating observed sunspot behaviour, relies on a model of meridional flow at the start of the cycle which was exactly opposite to the flow observed at that time.

        It seems the model ignored the reality. I got bad grades at school when I tried that, and I was't on anybody's payroll.

  3. ravenviz Silver badge

    Wave events

    There seem to be fast "wave events" coming out from the flare at the start, and also in the middle. Any explanation as to what these are?

  4. Robert Harrison


    It looks like my 6 year old son has been adding 'heat lines' to the cut away graphic. That'll teach me for letting him use MS Paint.

  5. TeeCee Gold badge

    "Pic: Dibyendu Nandi et al"

    Who, given what he does, really ought to be able to at least *spell* "Spotless"......

  6. Tom 13

    Where is page 2?

    You spent the whole first page setting up page 2. Where the help is it?!

    1. Luther Blissett

      Page 2

      Is where they independently validate the model.

      It may be some time.

  7. Andy Farley


    A good summer then?

  8. BillG

    Lovely Science

    Videos like that are why I love astronomy.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    oh, it's just apocalypse sign #345821095627834276587365819057 is all....

  10. Adrian Esdaile

    The sun is ON FIRE?


    Supristi nuckoes! We'd better put it out then!

    Quick, give me a bucket of water, a rocket-propelled Albert Memorial, and picture of Queen Victoria!

    Yes, that's mine. No, not the coat, the wall - it was a present from an admirer.

  11. John Hughes

    This is all bollocks

    Typical of the warmist fools who write for the Reg.

    Anyone who reads the truth in real scientific journals like E&E can tell you that the sun is made of Iron.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, fooey!

    The sun rings like a spherical bell. From that they have made a "computer model". The construction of such models began back in the 1980's. The problem with such models is and always has been that it is anything goes unless you have a great many observations to guide you in the construction of your model. Beginning to sound familiar, yet? That's right! We can't even come up with a workable model for planet Earth and we have started to tackle the modelling of the sun BEFORE we started trying to model our own atmosphere.

    Computer models are no different from any other form of theorizing, save that they are even more susceptible to the biases of their authors. The probability of getting a grossly biased conclusion from a computer model is much higher than the use of any other sort of tool. Even if the model proves strongly predictive there is no guarantee that it has anything to do with actual reality. As a potential problem of this type,

    I point out the difficulty with the Ptolemaic Model versus the Copernican Model of the solar system. For years and years the Ptolemaic Model of the Solar System was able to deliver better results. This was because Copernicus had made the mistake of assuming that planetary orbits were circular rather than elliptical. Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler sorted this out much later, but before they could get it all sorted out, the Catholic Church got involved. In those days the Church was as much a part of politics as breathing.

    Lesson learned? Don't drag your politicians into the scientific debate until you are ABSOLUTELY sure that the science is completely done.

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