It was awe inspiring, sitting there watching the Sun disappear. At that exact moment thousands of students were doing the exact same thing, letting scientific curiosity make the hair stand up on the back of their necks (ok maybe that was just me). Think about that, thousands of students doing the same scientific observation at the same time. Pretty powerful. That got me thinking about what makes this sun of ours so important that when it hides for 2 minutes and 40 seconds we all stop and take notice.

Here is my partial list of important things that come from the Sun (in no particular order): sun tans, photosynthesis, Northern Lights, Rock & Roll, and public power. Stick with me. We all know that sun tans, photosynthesis and the Northern lights are all reactions that take place from the radiant energy (electromagnetic waves) that come from the Sun. How is the Sun responsible for Rock & Roll and public power? Simple, the first law of thermodynamics - the law of conservation of energy. According to Julius Mayer, no energy can be created nor destroyed it can only CHANGE FORMS!! So that Rock & Roll sound we all love didn't start out as SOUND energy.

Follow me again. SOUND comes from the vibrating guitar strings (MECHANICAL MOTION). The guitar strings were plucked by Stevie Wonder (if you don't know Stevie look him up). Stevie's fingers were controlled by ELECTRICAL signals from his brain. That electricity came from a CHEMICAL reaction inside of the body (which came from the eggs Stevie had for breakfast). The eggs got their energy from the chicken (CHEMICAL). The chicken got its energy from the grain (CHEMICAL). The grain got its energy from the plant (CHEMICAL). The plant got its energy from RADIANT energy (photosynthesis). That radiant energy came from a NUCLEAR reaction on the Sun!  So, when I was outside playing air guitar and singing "Very Superstitious" during the eclipse it was just my way of saying thanks for the rock & roll, Sun (and in now way had anything to do with any conspiracy theories).

Now that brings us to public power. In recent years we have seen a number of community solar projects pop up throughout Nebraska. Definitely powered by the Sun, but that alone doesn't make the Sun responsible for public power. Wind - we have wind! Let's work backwards: ELECTRICITY from the generator -- MECHANICAL energy from the turning blades turns the generator - the wind is the MECHANICAL motion of the moving air - air moves because of uneven THERMAL energy on the Earth's surface - THERMAL energy comes from the RADIANT energy hitting the Earth - RADIANT energy that comes from the NUCLEAR reaction on the Sun. Are you getting the picture yet? Seems as if the Sun powers most of what we do here on Earth.  Coal - the energy comes from stored CHEMICAL energy from dead plants and animals (fossil fuels) - which got there energy from photosynthesis -- yep, from the NUCLEAR reaction on the Sun. Natural gas? Again, from the Sun - you do the energy trail.

As a matter of fact almost all of our energy in Nebraska comes indirectly from the Sun. Let's trace the only one that might not start with the Sun - Cooper Nuclear Power Station. ELECTRICITY - Generator (MECHANICAL) - Turbine (MECHANICAL) - Steam (MECHANICAL) - Heat to make steam (THERMAL) - where did the heat come from? No, not the Sun but from a NUCLEAR reaction right inside of the power plant. Nuclear fission from Uranium. Now we can research where the Uranium comes from but lets just settle on the idea that NUCLEAR energy (the energy stored in the nucleus of an atom) is the most concentrated form of energy and most likely the beginning of all transformations of energy.

Today the Sun went and hid for a couple of minutes just to remind us just how important it is. The Sun is responsible for all sorts of wonderful things like Rock & Roll and public power. I think its pretty clear - writings on the wall {another Stevie reference} - if you've got the Sun then BAM, YOU'VE GOT THE POWER!  Until next time, stay smart and stay safe.


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