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No. 122: Mar-Apr 1999

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Our Lucky Star

About every 5 years our sun spits a giant blob of ionized gases in the earth's direction. These "coronal mass ejections" or flares interfere with terrestrial communications and knock out power grids. But we are lucky it isn't worse.

Studies of stars in our galaxy similar to the sun find that they emit super-flares about once every century. If our sun sent such a super-flare our way, the atmosphere would glow like a neon tube, our fleet of satellites would be fried, and half the protective ozone layer would disappear in a flash. Earth life would survive -- at least for a while.

Our sun, it seems, is favored with anomalous stability, but no one knows why. We are simply lucky!

(Seife, Charles; "Thank Our Lucky Star," New Scientist, p. 15, January 9, 1999.)

Comment. We also live in a "lucky" galaxy. (See NOW WE KNOW WHY...later in this issue.) The universe is anthropic (i.e., favoring humans) at all levels!

From Science Frontiers #122, MAR-APR 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss