Calculating a Lifespan for the Sun

Thus says the LORD: “If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be explored, then I will cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done, declares the LORD.”

(Jeremiah 31:37) ESV

A lot of people are convinced that the mass of the sun is obtained using calculations of the rate of Hydrogen fusion with Einstein’s infamous equation: E-mc2.

A few of them have attempted to explain to us how this calculation works. We say attempted because they wound up realizing that they were still dependent on the mass of the sun we get from Kepler and Newton.

It turns out that Hydrogen fusion isn’t used to calculate the mass of the sun, it’s used to contrive a fictional life expectancy for the sun. The logic goes something like this:

The Lifespan of the Sun

  • The Sun produces energy through nuclear fusion (power output).
  • The power output per second is proportional to mass lost.
  • By measuring solar intensity using light meters we may estimate mass loss per second,
    • we use E=mc2, the conversion rate from matter to energy,
    • [incidentally, the use of E=mc2 at this point in the calculation is arbitrary, since it has never been proven that this is actually the rate of conversion from matter to energy or why it would be, but it’s use here is taken as proof of relativity]
  • The rate of fusion for Hydrogen at a given temperature can be measured in a lab1.
  • We know the rate of reaction as a proportion of total mass2.
  • This gives us the total mass.

There are a couple of problems with this approach:

  1. We assume that we understand the fusion process taking place in the sun, and we assume that this can replicated by a lab experiment,
    • that’s called a leap of faith.
  2. Hydrogen fusion is believed to be taking place on the surface of the sun which is 10% of the sun’s total mass.
    • Why 10%? – It’s arbitrary.
    • 10% of what? – The mass of the sun we get from Kepler and Newton (roll eyes).

It’s merely propaganda to say that Hydrogen fusion may be used to derive a value for the mass of the sun. However, the true objective is to obtain a lifespan for the sun based on it’s Kepler/Newton mass using the conversion rate from matter to energy (E=mc2) which is a sleight-of-hand way of making it look like the theory of relativity has been proven.

In fact it’s yet another example of inductive, reductive circular reasoning in popular science (SciPop). The friendly folks in SciPop have an estimate of the lifespan of the sun that’s intended to help you sleep at night. Don’t worry about a thing folks, they’ll happily tell you, the sun will burn for at least 5 billion more years.

So, if the mass of the sun isn’t 1.9E+30, but instead it’s 1.9E+19, then using Einstein’s equation for the conversion of matter to energy (E=mc2) the sun has about 102 years left. Matty’s not worried about helping you sleep at night. Matty’s concerned that you might wake up in hell one day. Big difference.

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