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Sunshine : the physics behind. no spoilers so dont worry!

  • fguihen
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I know few people have seen the movie "Sunshine" yet, but my friend in the IFI has, and he says that to keep the sun alive, they want to attempt to set off a nuclear bomb the size of an american state in the core of the sun to keep it alive ( this much is in the paper anyway so no spoiler!). From my basic basic understanding, setting off a nuclear warhead in the sun wil only help for a very short time. should they not be attempting to place huge quantities of hydrogen and helium into the suns core to replenish its diminishing fuel source?
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15 years 10 months ago #43870

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I don't think it could happen anyway. I mean, nothing in the Universe is able to survive the extreme temperatures and pressures our Sun would have in its 'mantle', let alone the core! Hence why everything is in a nuclear state within.
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15 years 10 months ago #43871

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Every second 6 million tonnes of hydrogen is converted into pure energy at the suns core! (use E=MC2 to estimate the amount of energy), not to speak of how much hydogen is needed in the first place for that to happen given that most of the hydrogen in a nuclear reaction is turned into helium.

Go figure the size of the nuclear bomb that would be !!

Setting off any currently existing nuclear warhead near/at or in the sun is like throwing a smartie at an oncoming train going 100MPH. As for one the size of north america, I still can imagine it would have any effect on something the size of the sun. I doubt all the world nuclear bombs going off together could sustain the sun for more then a nano second.
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15 years 10 months ago #43875

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I doubt all the world nuclear bombs going off together could sustain the sun for more then a nano second.


I doubt we could even come close, even with e.g. 10,000 times as many warheads. The reason being, the Sun (and any star burning at all) uses nuclear FUSSION - we have mostly fission (atomic)-based weapons instead. Weight for weight of raw material, fusion is about a couple hundred times more powerful than fission, and even more when right. Even at that, to yield the same energy as 6 million tonnes of hydrogen-based explosion (in a star) per second? Impossible! The United States alone can only produce about 7.8 million tonnes of hydrogen a year!
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15 years 10 months ago #43877

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The A-bomb uses fission.
The H-bomb("Thermonuclear") uses fusion.

(The H-bomb is so much more powerful it makes the A-bomb look like a firecracker.)
15 years 10 months ago #43879

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Hmm... typical american response to most situations - blow it up. As Dave L says, all the warheads in the world wouldn't sustain the sun for a nanosecond - just not enough mass. Now if the americans REALLY wanted to make a global contribution to the survival of the planet, they should send in the Marines (into the sun!) Now there's something with enough density to sustain the sun for ages! :wink:

Phil
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15 years 10 months ago #43880

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What year is the movie set in?
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15 years 10 months ago #43889

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What year is the movie set in?

Made in 2006, set in the same year.
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15 years 10 months ago #43892

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Even if you could get a bomb big enough and 'somehow' get it inside the core of the Sun, all you would do is increase the Sun's mass. This of course, would negate any extra 'energy' you injected by the explosion. You would have to remove a similar amount of matter to stop the star collapsing in on itself. Of course, do this enough times you might increase the mass enough to get a nice supernova!
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15 years 10 months ago #43895

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mmm....
all interesting points.
So..
What about a big spaceship in the shape of a bellows?
That might do the trick...at least untill the firelighters get goin'.
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15 years 10 months ago #43898

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Hi

I understand that it takes a million years for the energy released in the suns core to reach the surface. So that means that if the reactions stopped tomorrow it would be a good few hundred thousand years before we would notice any difference in the suns energy output.

I cant work out how letting off a nuclear bomb would re ignite the sun though. I suppose it depends on what is supposed to be causing it to go out in the first place!!!!

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15 years 10 months ago #43906

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I cant work out how letting off a nuclear bomb would re ignite the sun though. I suppose it depends on what is supposed to be causing it to go out in the first place!!!!
DB


Just remember, Dave, it's made by and for our gullible cousins across the pond... where the "suspension of disbelief" comes in super-sized soda cans... and where the history of the world is just something to be re-written, sexed-up and compressed into 120 minutes... not forgetting to include the "love interest" and little Johnny and his puppy with the sore paw. :roll:
15 years 10 months ago #43907

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Its real science fiction, with a serious emphasis on the fiction part, its no more real then 2 guys saving the world by uploading a virus :lol:
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15 years 10 months ago #43910

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  • fguihen
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What year is the movie set in?

Made in 2006, set in the same year.


its actually set about 50 - 60 years into the future. the director set it then as its possible some mindboggling new physics could have been discovered, and also the technology in the movie wouldnt look too alien, and more close to what were used to. im still confused, how would setting off a nuclear explosion in the sun help. even if you could set off that huge of a blast, it would only last for a few seconds. would they not be better "transporting" finding some way to get huge quantities of hydrogen into the sun ( wormhole from some nebula, or another distant star with no planets or life orbiting it)? i feel im lacking in understanding of how matter reacts within the sun.
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15 years 10 months ago #43912

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im still confused, how would setting off a nuclear explosion in the sun help. even if you could set off that huge of a blast, it would only last for a few seconds.


Poetic Licence Fintan, in the movies the science doesn't have to make sense. Now let's see them disprove this on Mythbusters!
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15 years 10 months ago #43921

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appart from the fact that there would be no warhead on Earth big enough to do this... and oh dear me lets hope they will not manage to make them that big in the future... but how would they get this thing to the core without being destroyed prematurely due to high temperatures ? Also the corona might be very thin... but it still would have to pass through it.... not sure if a warhead no matter how sophisticated would survive a few million degrees celcius...

so as said here already before Science-fiction with a lot of fiction ...

but it probably will have great special effects... and is that not the main reason for watching such films ? Just make sure to remove you brain before you go to the cinema - leave the brain in a tupperware box in the fridge and re-insert after seeing the film.... be carefull with brain-freeze though :D
15 years 10 months ago #43925

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  • fguihen
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one more question though. lets forget its all science fiction and just pretend that a warhead could be gotten into the suns core. wouldnt a warhead only last a few seconds? im i correct in thinking they would have to deposit unimaniginable amounts of hydrogen or helium to buy any real time, while also removing some of the elements of heavier mass to keep the sun stable and balanced? am i mising something here that would allow a giant warhead to keep the sun alive?
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15 years 10 months ago #43929

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It's a disaster movie. The story is probably written by arts majors. If it's entertaining sit back and enjoy it, if not get up and walk away. But don't expect it to make sense (except in the 'poetic' sense, or would that be expecting too much of Hollywood?).

And if that doesn't work, pour yourself a drink. :)
John

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15 years 10 months ago #43933

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appart from the fact that there would be no warhead on Earth big enough to do this... and oh dear me lets hope they will not manage to make them that big in the future... but how would they get this thing to the core without being destroyed prematurely due to high temperatures ?


Nah , see they wait till the sun actually goes out and then do it. Basically do it at night :lol:
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15 years 10 months ago #43934

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Question: Would adding anything to the sun increases its mass therefore increasing the rate of fuel usage?

All having the effect of reducing the life of said star?

Or have I got it wrong again... (be gentle :wink: )

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15 years 10 months ago #43938

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Adding anything higher up the periodic table than Iron will provide more fuel for the sun to burn. From Iron on down through the rest of the elements you have to also ADD extra energy to get those elements to fuse... which is why stars go BANG when they run out of the lighter elements and try to fuse Iron.

You definitely want to put your fingers in your ears when that happens to the sun!

Higher mass stars burn their fuel more rapidly than lower mass stars. Super giants burn very rapidly and then collapse into neutron stars, pulsars or black holes (live fast, die young - chug vodka shots and party like an animal) while the more wimpy main sequence jobs consume their fuel at a more sedate pace (a bit like having afternoon tea in polite company) and merely lift a butt-cheek to express their satisfaction... expelling some excess gas and leave a beautiful planetary nebula!

Stars are a lot like people!

Phil.
15 years 10 months ago #43939

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What year is the movie set in?

Made in 2006, set in the same year.


its actually set about 50 - 60 years into the future. the director set it then as its possible some mindboggling new physics could have been discovered, and also the technology in the movie wouldnt look too alien, and more close to what were used to.


My bad, sorry!
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15 years 10 months ago #43945

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I understand that it takes a million years for the energy released in the suns core to reach the surface. So that means that if the reactions stopped tomorrow it would be a good few hundred thousand years before we would notice any difference in the suns energy output.


I doubt that Dave. The reactions themselves are adding to the balancing act between implosions, explosions, and gravitaional forces. The Sun's surface seems to 'stand still' as we see it, yet, just a couple thousand miles up from its surface, the corona is streaming away at tens of thousands of miles an hour at least.

While the reactions at the core do take hundreds of years at least to reach the surface (in the form of plamsa and electrons etc), if they were to suddenly stop now (say, with the flick of a switch) at the core, we would know pretty soon that happened! Probably in about 10 minutes - once the non-reaction reached the surface, and then taking 8 minutes and 45 seconds to reach us in the form of NO light!
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15 years 10 months ago #43946

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Adding anything higher up the periodic table than Iron will provide more fuel for the sun to burn. From Iron on down through the rest of the elements you have to also ADD extra energy to get those elements to fuse... which is why stars go BANG when they run out of the lighter elements and try to fuse Iron.


eh you need to add energy in order to fuse anything higher than Iron.

When stars have converted everything up to Iron they require energy to go any further. They dont have the energy so the reactions stop. This stops the outward pressure and gravity wins over and collapses the star. That give enough energy for higher up elements to be created in the BANG.
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15 years 10 months ago #43947

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Always consult youtube when in doubt.

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15 years 10 months ago #43953

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