2008-08-04

(Theoretically) Humorous Turns of Phrase

I was looking for something else and came across a rather brief discussion from 2004 regarding a page of mine.

While discussing the origins of neutron stars, I made the following statement:

To get a good neutron star, you need to take a really old star . . . preferably one of sufficient age that it has an iron core (because once you hit iron, you actually have to put more energy into fusion than you get out of it, and most stars don't bother).
Now, silly me, I never thought that anyone would take that last parenthetical bit literally. But check out this humorless git:

It's not that "most stars don't bother" it's that these stars CANNOT continue the fusion reaction. It would require more energy to fuse the iron atoms together than this reaction (note the word reaction) would produce. The word reaction is important because this is how all of the lower elements are formed. The fusion reaction runs off of the energy it produces, and if it does not have the available energy, then the reaction will halt.

It's like saying that if you don't give your standard car enough gas, then the engine will seize because "it doesn't feel like continuing the reaction."

It's not that it doesn't want to, stars don't have a personality or a brain, it's that it simply cannot continue the reaction.

The only reason we have the higher elements is because they were created during a supernova. The extreme heat and energy present during a supernova provides enough fuel for the iron atoms to fuse into elements like lead, cobalt and uranium.

Okay, fine, maybe it wasn't funny and I'll give up my lifelong yearnings to do stand-up comedy. But was it really necessary for some twerp to try to correct me on the point, as if I were seriously anthropomorphizing big fusion balls?

(Note to the twerp, on the off-chance this is ever seen: stand-up comedy is not a real life-goal for me ... just kidding a little! Get a grip!)

3 comments:

  1. Wow... That's... Yeah, that guy either needs a life, a sense of humor, or a brain. Or maybe all three...

    And, btw, I thought the comment was amusing. But, then, I'm fond of such comments, and tend to make them myself, so go figure.

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  2. Also, it occurred to me, he got it wrong.

    Heavy elements ARE formed in the cores of active stars, because the matter doesn't just sit there completely inactive and non-reactive once it turns to iron. It's still sitting in the core of a star, and subject to all the intense heat and pressure therein. Heavier elements ARE formed in the cores of active stars, it's just at a negative cost, and is actually one of the contributing factors that leads to a nova or supernova, if I am not mistaken, and are not formed solely in the fires of a supernova.

    There would be a certain amount of irony and amusement value in pointing that out to him, I think...

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  3. Some twits just don't know you're being figurative, without a little "smiley" at the end like this ;^p

    Though I doubt it would have mattered.

    Yes, matter doesn't stop fusing once it turns to iron, but it's endothermic after that-- and therefore once the entire star turns to iron, there's no other elements to mooch off of (oops, better put a smiley before some twit accuses me of saying "stars aren't panhandlers!")

    So here it is: :^p

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