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Supercomputer Models Sun's Corona Dynamics 105

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the waiting-for-the-vogons dept.
gihan_ripper writes "Researchers from San Diego are using supercomputers to accurately predict the shape of the Sun's corona, based on magnetic field data from the photosphere. It is hoped that this model will enable us to predict Coronal Mass Ejections. When CMEs reach the Earth, they produce geomagnetic storms and can wreak havoc with communcations, GPS, and power networks. In the decade or so, the researchers hope to be able to predict CME collisions with the Earth and determine their impact."
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Supercomputer Models Sun's Corona Dynamics

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  • Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Monkeys!!! (831558) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @01:45AM (#15610925) Homepage
    I just hope the next advancement is getting the Earth to dodge the CME. :)
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Maelwryth (982896) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @01:53AM (#15610945)
      HAARP [wikipedia.org] is working in it right now. It might take some time though because they are one series of earthquakes and a rather large lightning strike behind this year. Not to mention the alien request to study us "sans atmosphere", but thats due after christmas.
      • Well then, I guess the first step to stop global warming is to shut these puppies down.
        The HAARP IRI is an ionospheric heater, one of many around the world. It is comparable in function and power to most of them.
    • Re:Awesome! (Score:4, Funny)

      by x2A (858210) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @02:23AM (#15611023)
      Why bother when we can LAUNCH NUKES at the incoming CMEs!!!

      Quickly, ready the missiles!

      • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

        by helioquake (841463) *
        That's like launching a nuke into a Category 5 hurricane.

        Actually the scale is more like launching a big firework.

        No worry, though, Earth's magnetic field is a pretty good shield.
        • Re:Awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Elemenope (905108)

          It's funny you should say that. I would think that a sizeable nuclear detonation (at the right time and place) would cause a pressure wave powerful enough to disrupt the dynamo that is the low pressure center of a hurricane, and dissipate it. I dunno, any meteorologists in the crowd? Just how sensitive is a hurricane to disruptions of that magnitude? Do we even have a vaguest notion?

          • Re:Awesome! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Leebert (1694) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @08:32AM (#15611937)
            I would think that a sizeable nuclear detonation (at the right time and place) would cause a pressure wave powerful enough to disrupt the dynamo that is the low pressure center of a hurricane, and dissipate it.


            No. See: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/tcfaq/C5c.html [noaa.gov]
          • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Insightful)

            by JerkBoB (7130)
            I would think that a sizeable nuclear detonation (at the right time and place) would cause a pressure wave powerful enough to disrupt the dynamo that is the low pressure center of a hurricane, and dissipate it. I dunno, any meteorologists in the crowd? Just how sensitive is a hurricane to disruptions of that magnitude? Do we even have a vaguest notion?

            The NOAA [noaa.gov] might.

            On top of not working, it'd just spew nuclear fallout everywhere. That's silly.
            • On top of not working, it'd just spew nuclear fallout everywhere. That's silly.

              I didn't think it was a good (tm) idea (LOL!); I was just curious if it was a basically feasible idea for the immediate goal of destroying the hurricane. Apparently I'm not the only one who's thought of this twisted plan, though (I though not. On second thought, It's too damn obvious.) BTW, thanks for the link.

      • fire ze missiles!

        but i'm le tired...

        ok, have a nap, then fire ze missiles!!!

    • I don't understand the scientists, how hard can that be? Let's just build a 30ft thick roof of lead in the atmosphere, and we get rid of all that dangerous electromagnetic radiation... wait, nevermind...
    • No, you see... When it gets sufficiently advanced, the earth won't _need_ to dodge the CME.
  • by Skidge (316075) * on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @01:50AM (#15610938) Homepage
    In the decade or so, the researchers hope to be able to predict CME collisions with the Earth and determine their impact.

    Hopefully that means in the future we'll get CME days off from work, since havok-wreaking on communcations, GPS, and power networks would severly limit my productivity.
  • Just looking at this superficially, it seems unlikely that we will ever accurately predict these events. Chaos has already doomed weather forcasters, who will never be able to predict the formation, maximum strength, or path of a tropical storm well in advance (well, unless they placed sensors on ever single particle on Earth, and then placed sensors on those sensors). The same is probably true of solar events.
    • by kozumik (946298) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @03:00AM (#15611104)
      > it seems unlikely that we will ever accurately predict these events. Chaos has already doomed weather forcasters

      Let me guess, you heard a butterfly can cause a hurricaine due to chaos theory right? :rolleyes

      It depends what you mean by "accurately" I guess. If you mean predictions with high probability several days in advance, yes that's doable. As you may recall we're already predicting hurricaine formation and movement days to a week or more in advance now, with a decent level of accuracy, and getting better all the time.

      Global forcasting is already able to predict micro-climate changes months and even years in advance on a resolution of only several miles due to shifting weather patterns on a global/continential scale.

      If weather was truly chaotic, i.e. if the total of all buterflys and other tiny variables made for completly unpredictable weather, then such predictions wouldn't be possible. Obviously the weather is not as chaotic as many HS professors have cliamed in that famous example. For that matter we wouldn't likely see big stable spots on Venus or have predictble trade winds here on earth, or all sorts of other fairly predictable features.

      From monitoring the globe via satellite for things like ocean temps, and with many sensors for wind speed, forecasters construct fluid dynamic simulations which make it possible to predict smaller and smaller weather patterns further into the future, with increasing accuracy, butterflys or no.
      • "Let me guess, you heard a butterfly can cause a hurricaine due to chaos theory right? :rolleyes"

        No, I've read a couple books on chaos, and did experiments with chaotic pendulums and water drop formation back in undergrad senior physics lab. The equations underlying weather prevent one from ever accurately predicting the condition in a specific location the further you go into the future, and that "distance" into the future is not going to increase as our technology increases. It's going to remain short.
        • by kozumik (946298) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @03:51AM (#15611203)
          Sorry, but you're over estimating the chaotic qualities of weather based on some outdated thinking. Yes it's true weather is too chaotic to ever be completly deterministic and there is a limited horizon on forcasting. We're not ever likly to predict individual rainshowers months or years in advance for example.

          However, it will be possible to predict large weather patterns long in advance, years and even decades. For averages over longer periods of time they're already making predictions by running simulations on a global resolution of only several miles.

          Medium scale weather events like hurricaines can be predicted days in advance now becasue it's not that chaotic, it relies on large events like global weather fronts, ocean temps, etc which allow prediction to a high degree of accuracy now. And yes, better methods and increased comuatational power are making those predictions more accurate, earlier.

          You should actually read papers on what's being done on climate modeling by going to some of the relevant sites. Operating on classroom theory of chaos generalized to weather isn't exactly useful.
          • We are having some confusion here about what constitutes accurate or inaccurate prediction. It would be nice if we could predict which STATE a hurricane will hit. I'm not sure about the current state of the art, but it seems that currently they can only do this reliably about two maybe three days ahead. I doubt they will ever be able to predict a hurricane path say, ten days ahead, because the weather is chaotic enough that it is sensitive to small changes like butterflies and forrest fires, which simply ca
          • Yes it's true weather is too chaotic to ever be completly deterministic

            Unless you believe that Thor, Zeus, and friends are meddling in our weather, it is completely deterministic. The fact that we cannot measure enough of the inputs to the system to make long-range predictions, does not mean that it is not a deterministic system created and controlled by causation.

            • the best models we have of our universe have indeterminism; probabilities not certainties. Your views are those of the 17th, 18th and 19th century physicists.
              • I assume that the indeterminism that you are talking about is the result of quantum effects, and not just insane-complexity-treated-as-randomness. However, at the macro level these quantum effects can be treated as static, since for large enough samples, they will average out to 0.5 (assuming range of zero to one). For instance, an average human brain contains approx. 456 trillion trillion atoms. For that many tests of randomness, the results will cancel out, and can pretty much be discounted. Scale tha
                • Quantum events can have huge unpredictable macroscopic consequences, it's an error to think they all "average out" in the macroscopic universe. Suppose we had a geiger counter displaying an average count rate of 120 per minute. Then we make a detonator that explodes a bomb if 121 counts are made in the next minute. There's no way to know if the bomb will go off or not in the next minute, regardless of the amount of information you have about the universe beforehand. Aside from quantum effects, the univ
                  • Suppose we had a geiger counter displaying an average count rate of 120 per minute. Then we make a detonator that explodes a bomb if 121 counts are made in the next minute.

                    But if a single neuron is composed of approx. 4 quadrillion atoms, these effects cancel each other out much more effectively, than if you are talking about 120 atoms. I've heard this called "The Law of Big Numbers", but that might have been a joke from a math professor.

                    Aside from quantum effects, the universe also is indeterministic

                    • causation assumes the reason and result of things lie along a time-axis. what if it turns out that for macroscopic phenomenon there's other dimensions where this is true? As an example, the universe seems to have a definite beginning, but the reasons for it would be outside of time, so what we cal "casualty" can't apply
                    • You're right that in general, causation pretty much depends upon a time axis. Are we really close to dispelling the notion that there is one time axis? I don't know much about that.

                      As for the beginning of the Universe lying outside of time, that might speak against the future being predetermined at the beginning of time. However, that would not impact the notion of ongoing causation. The state of the Universe one hour from now is caused by the state of the Universe right now.

                      Perhaps the "Law of Big N

            • I meant deterministic in the sense of what we're able to predict, obviously. Whether the entire universe is deterministic or whether free will even exists are philisophical and spiritual qustions outside the scope of this converstaion.
              • Okay, but in the future I recommend the use of the "unpredictable" rather than "nondeterministic". Though even with "unpredictable", we have to wonder wether you mean "We do not have the means to measure the inputs, and the models to allow us to predict...", or do you mean, "Regardless of any advances in technology and expenditure of extreme effort, it will never be possible to predict..." Noting that the latter still does not mean that the system under discussion is not deterministic. These distinctions
                • :rolleyes

                  I think your understanding of the terminology is rather superficial. Your introducing the philisopical dimension of the word into the discussion was a silly attempt to say something smart sounding.
                • > But discussions of choatic, but not conscious, systems such as weather don't touch on the Free Will issue.

                  Btw, that's also a rather silly and superficial distinction in regards to life on earth and the weather. If you want to be a weenie (which you seem to desire greatly) you could argue our free will and interaction with the universe makes everything non-deterministic or conversely the universe is deterministic and therefore no free will.

                  > or do you mean, "Regardless of any advances in technology a
          • There was nothing incorrect in my reply. While we may be able to predict that hurricanes will be stronger in a future season, we can't say where/when the early stages of a hurricane or tropical storm will appear, and thus we won't be able to predict the number of hurricanes.
        • "The equations underlying weather prevent one from ever accurately..."

          Um, there are no equations underlying weather. There are equations that model weather patterns, however (I presume that's what you meant...). These current models are limited by, for example, available processing power. New technologies allow for alternative models, which may be more accurate at making predictions about future weather patterns. So to say that "It's going to remain short" is a bit short-sighted.
      • Good point about trade winds and such. But while some weather features are long term predictable to some degree, I think for the most part weather really is quite chaotic. I doubt forcasts more than a couple days will ever be very precise. If you can't appreciate the large influence of a small butterfly on a partially chaotic system, then consider the forest fire. It will probably always be impossible to predict where someone will throw down their cigarette and start a forest fire. After a day or two a fore
      • If weather was truly chaotic, i.e. if the total of all buterflys and other tiny variables made for completly unpredictable weather, then such predictions wouldn't be possible.

        The weather is a chaotic system in the mathematical sense of the word. That doesn't mean it's impossible to predict anything about the system. A coffee cup you pour milk into forms a chaotic system. The average temperature of the cup over time is easily predictable.
      • >If weather was truly chaotic, i.e. if the total of all buterflys and other tiny variables made for
        >completly unpredictable weather, then such predictions wouldn't be possible.

        That would be random weather, not chaotic weather, which is a quite different beast.

      • As you may recall we're already predicting hurricaine formation and movement days to a week or more in advance now, with a decent level of accuracy, and getting better all the time.

        Really? How quickly we forget ...The National Hurricane Center was saying this about Katrina on August 25, 2005

        This forecast is rather difficult since one of the more reliable models...the GFS...shows that the cyclone barely touches the East Coast of Florida before moving northward....while the outstanding GFDL moves Katrina so

        • Feynman's methods are totally outdated, as are his assumptions. He was in old age before the dawn of modern computing and since his death the field of simulating weather and fluid dynamics has been completly reinvented.
    • Since some sensible things are being said on this thread, and since there is evidently a lack of uniformity about the meanings of words, I am tempted to propose something a bit un-slashdotty -- provide literature citations. Resolving issues such as this, which partly hinge on the precise meanings of words (even the word "precise" itself) is something for which the conventional literature is rather effective.
  • Incredible videos (Score:5, Interesting)

    by caryw (131578) <`carywiedemann' `at' `gmail.com'> on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @01:54AM (#15610951) Homepage
    CME's produce some incredible video when they hit our sun-pointed satellites. If you haven't seen them I highly recommend checking out NASA's "Best Of SOHO Movies" for a better idea of what these things are capable of.

    http://sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov/bestofsoho/Movies/m ovies2.html [nasa.gov]
    --
    Northern Virginia? Forums and Arrest/Ticket Database [fairfaxunderground.com]. Seeking additions to the (new) wiki [fairfaxunderground.com]
  • ...this is clearly a computer that should have come from Sun Microsystems! Honestly, the nerve!
  • Java? (Score:3, Funny)

    by StarkRG (888216) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [grkrats]> on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @02:03AM (#15610976)
    Ok, fine, fine, it'll enable them to predict things coming out of Sun, but will it tell us if Java will ever be open source?
    • by jpardey (569633)
      When the ice caps melt, when there is no power/water/internet, when there is no visible light, just heat, and when the corpses lie in the streets, they will release the source code so we can all have a good laugh.
  • The designer (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by XanC (644172)
    Dr Reyga [memory-alpha.org] is finally getting his due...
  • ...I read the headline as "Supermodel Computes Sun's Corona Dynamics". Blame it on hectic Tuesday. But we would love to see the day, won't we?

    -clueless
  • The next thing they plan to do is build gigantic 'strafe' keys on either side of the planet.

    After that it's a rocket jump control to avoid incoming asteroids. I beleive that's going on belgium.
  • Mass.....ejections....ahhhh ----- Oh, wait - e-J-E....-ctions - damn, and here I thought we had dutifully wandered back onto the subject of female ejaculations & I've got a paper due on just that very pertinent topic by tomorrow this time and.... urrggg nevermindddddd::::::

    What is it, something along the lines of 8+ minutes for CME effects to flood our area post clip...? Not much time for adjustments if the predict fails.
  • Currently seems we could do nothing to work against it. Maybe we could assign a evacuate procedure to the satillites to move to the night side of the Earth to hide from CMEs in future?
    • by helioquake (841463) * on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @02:51AM (#15611083) Journal
      The satellites which would be severely affected by CMEs are most probably located at geo-synchronous orbit. To bring one closer to Earth, you will have to (1) move it closer to the Earth, and then (2) you also have to slow it down because, as it gets closer to Earth with its angular momentum still conserved (imagine the ice-skater's spinning with and without the arms stretched), the satellite would undergo a faster revolution around the Earth. If you don't slow it down, it'll sling back out to a higher orbit.

      Many GPS satellites are orbiting in low-Earth orbits. Those are protected by Earth's magnetic field (most of the time) and will be fine against a regular CME.
    • by gihan_ripper (785510) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @04:09AM (#15611234) Homepage

      The benefit in knowing collision dates is that we'll be able to partially protect our assets from the storm. For example, power companies can issue a planned outage, taking their transformers off-line for a brief period during the storm in order to prevent a longer outage caused by damage.

      This is like our desire to know how the (terrestrial) weather is going to behave, even though we can't influence it. Advance warning helps us to prepare for adverse weather.

      • CME prediction *may* also be useful to virology. The frequencies of CMEs vary with sunspot cycle (~11 year period). Moreover, solar radiation has biological impact as well and sunspot cycles (and thus, CMEs) have been strongly corelated with flu epidemics and pandemics: 1918 Spanish Flu, 1957-58 Asian Flu, etc.

        The idea is as straightforward as radiation inducing viral mutation. We are currently at the low point in the cycle. The current, highly pathogenic H5N1 (a subtype/mutation of the Influenza A virus)

    • I doubt even moving satellites would do anything, since large CME effect things on the earths surface.. If we could accurately predict a strong CME, here are some things that could be done, derived from Geomagnetic storm [wikipedia.org] definition:

      1.) Send NOTAM's to pilots that Navgiation systems will be shutdown or disrupted during time X through time Y. Advise on an alternate navigation procedure.

      2.) Get the astronauts out of space; The increased radiation might kill them.

      3.) Figure out (another simulation) what
  • by artifex2004 (766107) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @02:50AM (#15611079) Journal
    was modelling the bubbles that form on the lemon slice after it's pushed into the bottle.



    (hackwrench, this should have been your comment)
  • I bet they use Intel CPUs!
  • Just ask Hactar (Score:3, Informative)

    by bananaendian (928499) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @03:50AM (#15611200) Homepage Journal
    Researchers from San Diego are using supercomputers to accurately predict the shape of the Sun's corona.

    In other news researchers are using supercomputers to accurately predict the weather, earthquakes and the stockmarket.

    We already have a perfectly good satellite based early warning system for predicting Space Weather [noaa.gov]. Trouble is the damn thing keeps knocking them out. I think we should skip this trivial phase of technology and move directly to space weather control. I reckon all we need is to turn up the volume in HAARP [wikipedia.org] or hire these guys [goldendome.org].

    • The problem is that NOAA doesn't actually own the main satellites that it is using -- ACE (for solar wind sampling) and SOHO (for solar imaging) are both NASA satellites that are intended for research. SOHO and ACE deliver real-time data on an as-available basis. They don't have the same level of reliability and systems redundancy that a weather satellite would have.

      Perhaps more importantly, both ACE and SOHO are aging (SOHO is nearly 11 years old, compared to its original 2-year mission) and there is n

  • by this great guy (922511) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @03:54AM (#15611209)
    Are we talking about the corona or Corona ? Because ejections of the second one are disgusting.
  • The article its interesting but doesn't really have any facts about how they improved the model. I can see the obvious advantages you'd be able to calculate when a CME is going to be strong enough to effect power systems and when it might be a good idea to move satalities into a temporary lower orbit. But some more details on the how would have been nice.
  • Supermodel Computes Sun's Corona Dynamics
  • by fan777 (932195)
    that's some super-hot models
  • I thought I was seeing some new marketing from Sun Microsystems.
  • ...fewer articles about "Supercomputer Models Sun's Corona Dynamics"

    and more articles about "Dynamic Super Models Drinking Coronas"
  • Crap... I read the title as Supermodel Computes Sun's Dynamic Corona and thought it had to do with a beer commercial starring women in bathing suits.

    There goes my dyslexia again.

  • Maybe I'm missing something, but I just don't see how this helps mankind? Do we really think we're going to shield the Earth from these solar storms? Should we? If the concern is really with the danger to electronics, then shouldn't we spending the time and money on enhancing electronic shielding instead? Or is this part of a military agenda so that attacks can be coordinated with a nuclear storm so that the enemy is disoriented while we are shielded... I love science but I'm not an advocate of science
    • by Ana10g (966013) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @09:28AM (#15612184)
      I won't get into any examples, as I'm not qualified to make such predictions (though I'm sure some here are). That being said, researching for the sake of research produces useful results. Strictly researching "science with a purpose" could have prevented a good portion of our current discoveries. We don't know what our results will bring us, and that's the best part. We can apply this information where ever it fits, and use it to further understand our problems, which might lead to more "Science with a purpose" as you put it. All science is valuable, purposeful or not.
      • I don't mean to sound totally against non-applied sciences, but to me this has gone beyond the science and has now created a tool based around the science. The inventors must have had some purpose for this tool when they decided to create it. I just think that the author did a poor job of researching the technology by not stating what it's possible uses might be.
    • I seem to recall some mention during the last major solar event that if the event had been predicted several power management strategies could be put into effect to mitigate or minimize the outage. It the difference of reducing output briefly vs. re-initializes a massive system after an outage.
  • I say we use the power from the geomagnetic storms to power a time loop machine. I want to be king of Groundhog Day!
  • sounds like a movie plot to me. We will be able to predict the corona but then some criminal predicts a massive one that takes out a lot of communications and then steals some stuff.
  • MODELS?!!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by LordPhantom (763327) on Tuesday June 27, 2006 @10:21AM (#15612506)
    andCorona?!? I almost got excited there, until I saw "supercomputer".
  • In the decade or so, the researchers hope to be able to predict CME collisions with the Earth and determine their impact.

    So we see them coming sooner than if just waiting for visual confirmation that it happened. It's not like we can do much about it with this extra warning time, is there?

  • You can monitor solar activity from Firefox with the Propfire [n0hr.com] plugin.
    It puts a tasteful text-based solar flux / A / K index display in the lower right corner.
  • Darn. At first I thought this thing was "Super Models Compute Corona's Sun Dynamics" which would, of course, have looked a lot like the gasoline fight from Zoolander, but with less clothing and without as much of a fireball.
  • Unfortunately, I think I speak for all of us when I say I misread that as "Supermodel Computes Sun's Corona Dynamics".

    Worse, it stirred my heart.

    I need a girl...
  • Does It is hoped that this model will enable us to predict Coronal Mass Ejections look like it has more than one meaning?
  • Why can't I get a job that interesting!?

    The biggest challenge I had this month was either a dead network card or a psycotic printer.

    I need a new job.
  • Anyone else do a double-take after skimming the subject line? :)

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