Before reading this book I thought that ‘our’ sun was a very hot sphere made up of some sort of unbelievably long lasting nuclear explosion. I had never tested this assumption and seem to have assumed that because of the sun’s extreme heat and light not much would be known about its internal workings, but Lucie Green shows how wrong I have been. Solar physicists may be horrified that I had so little understanding of what they have been up to for centuries, but I suspect that I am far from alone.
In fact, a vast amount is known about the sun and how it works, and this book sets about explaining the complexity and beauty of this to the lay reader. The facts and figures are mind-bending, and the distances, mass, speed and temperatures are, to me, truly unimaginable. How can one wrap one’s mind round the idea that the energy of a Coronal Mass Ejection (read the book to find out what this is) carrying 100 million tonnes of material moving at 450 km per second is in the order of 10 million billion billion joules?
In this book Lucie Green brings the vast complexity and scale of the sun to life, unravelling the mysteries of how it ticks and showing how it is the engine that drives our existence.
I think it is worth warning that however much Lucie tries to make her explanations understandable to non-scientists by explaining complex concepts in a very user-friendly way, this is a scientific book. If you are not interested in getting to grips with gravity, electrons, plasma, spectral lines, the photosphere and helioseismology this is not the book for you, but if you are curious and these things could intrigue you, this is a fascinating book. By the end you will realise how lucky it is that we are here at all, and also appreciate our tiny place in the unimaginably vast universe.
Christopher Butterworth is a Civil and Commercial Mediator and Partner at Raworths LLP.
Lucie Green is appearing at the Raworths Harrogate Literature Festival on Friday 8th July at 5.00pm. Click Here to Book.