Weather Wise

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The Independent Online
TWO reports last week confirmed what a pleasant place the Earth is to live on. On Tuesday, the European Space Agency reported findings from its Soho spacecraft which has identified, from its position almost a million miles away from Earth, vast tornadoes lashing across the sun, at speeds of up to 300,000 mph.

Knowing that these winds exist, in gusts as wide as the Earth, may eventually throw some light on the phenomenon of solar wind - electrically charged particles emitted by the Sun which blow throughout the solar system at very high speeds. These lose the Sun millions of tons in mass every year, which hardly seems to bother it at all. And because the particles are so small, their impact on Earth is negligible, except for their effect on our magnetic field - which is why high sunspot activity, which is associated with high solar winds, can lead to computer crashes.

Meanwhile, in galaxies outside the Milky Way, it could be rather windy. According to a news report last week, Jack Burns of the University of Missouri, is one of a growing number of astronomers who believe that most galaxy clusters are tumultuous places with winds that would make an earthly hurricane look like a child's sneeze. Gravity fields interacting among the galaxies of a supercluster trigger violent winds that send shock waves through space.

We live on a remarkably peaceful planet, in a galaxy that is part of a small and quiet cluster in a tumultuous universe. So stop complaining about the rain, will you?

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