In this article, we will see the importance of the sun in our daily life. When we think about sun and it’s light, we mostly think about Vitamin D, but you would be surprised to find out that there tons of other uses of this massive Star. For us to understand the importance of Sun, we need to understand the energy that it generates, what is that energy and how is it created. So, let’s get started.
What is solar energy?
Every Star generates energy through a process called nuclear fusion. In, fusion reaction nuclei of small atoms combine and form a heavier atom(which is a different element) and as a byproduct releases huge amounts of energy. This released energy is equivalent to the mass difference of the reactants(small atoms) and products(Heavier atoms). Stars mostly get their energy by converting Hydrogen into Helium. Stars can be considered as giant nuclear reactors producing huge amounts of energy.
How much energy?
The energy we receive from the Sun in the form of radiation is called Solar Energy. The average intensity of light is about 1353 W/m2. It is estimated that earth receives more energy from the sun in 1hour than the global population uses in an entire year. This data alone shows the potential of Solar energy to solve worlds energy needs.
let’s see what are the benefits of Sunlight or energy.
The Importance Of Sun In Our Daily Life
Studies done by scientists indicate that taking a walk in Sunlight will improve your mood. This is due to an increase in Serotonin production by the brain( Serotonin is considered as Happy chemical as it makes us feel happy and cheerful). Low levels of Serotonin is usually associated with a type of Depression known as SAD(Seasonal Affective Disorder).
Also, Sun rays are a great source of Vitamin D which is essential for healthy bones and a healthy body.
Although excessive sunlight might cause Skin Cancer, Sunlight in regulated prevents cancers such as Colon Cancer, Pancreatic Cancer, etc, A not so popular health benefit is that exposure to UV rays decreases Inflammation.
It is a process in which some plants, algae and some bacteria convert light energy into chemical energy which can be later used to supply its energy needs.
Plants take Carbon Dioxide, water, and oxygen and produce Food (carbohydrates) we eat in the presence of sunlight. Oxygen is generated as a byproduct during Photosynthesis. Sunlight is essential for photosynthesis to take place as it provides the energy needed for the reaction to take place.
Without sun no organism will have food and thus no life can exist.
Energy needs of humanity are constantly increasing but there are no certain sources of energy to rely upon. It is estimated that we will run out of fossil fuels in the near future. Some estimates put that date as close as 2050. There is also the problem of pollution and global warming due to the usage of fossil fuels. In these dire circumstances, we have no choice but to opt for renewable sources of energy.
Of all the renewable sources of energy, solar energy is the best due to the fact that it is one of the cleanest forms of energy and its availability is consistent unlike wind or tidal energy. We can predict the amount of solar energy we receive at a particular on a particular day pretty accurately. This is not possible with tidal and wind energy. Solar energy is never exhausting, unlike other renewable energy. All these factors make solar energy the best for electricity production.
Apart from Electricity production Solar energy is used for solar water heaters, solar cookers, Drying food to store it for future use, to produce salt from seawater, etc.
Every living being has a biological clock in it. It not only determines our sleep and waking patterns but also makes sure that all other processes in our body such as digestion, the functioning of kidneys, the release of hormones are adapted to one another and are activated at the correct time of the day. This biological timekeeping is even encoded in individual cells scheduling its activities. Basically, this clock is essential for the organism to live properly.
For internal processes in the human body to work properly, this biological clock has to be synchronized with the environmental clock I.e., The Sun. This is the reason we sleep when after sunsets and wakes up after sunrise. Sun dictates all living beings when to eat, when to sleep, and when to mate(Three main tasks to ensure the survival of the organism).
Intergalactic Travel and Aliens
Renowned physicist and mathematician, Freeman Dyson proposed that advanced civilizations have to depend on the star in their solar system for their energy needs. He proposed a concept of Megastructures with efficient solar panels pointing towards the Star to capture its entire energy to use it for interplanetary or intergalactic travel. These megastructures are known as Dyson Spheres.
Even though people thought it to be nothing but fiction at the time of the release of his research paper in 1960, scientists are now taking this idea seriously. Telescopes around the world are scanning our sky to find a star which has a Dyson sphere like megastructures in hopes of finding alien civilizations.
Scientists now believe our ticket out of Earth or solar system is to construct a Dyson sphere around the sun by mining Venus or mercury.
Entropy measures the disorder in the system. According to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, the entropy of the system always increases if no work is done on it or no energy is provided to it. Basically, we need to invest energy to bring order from disorder.
For the formation of life different substances have to come together which are of higher entropy and combine to form living DNA/RNA of lower entropy. This decrease in entropy is mandatory for life to begin and for required biological processes to happen. The required energy for this comes from the Sun.
Without energy from Stars, the entropy of our universe keeps on increasing (voiding any possibility of life) and reaches to its final state of maximum entropy called Heat Death of Universe. In this state, there is no heat transfer and no life is possible.
Communication and Technology
UV light which is a part of the solar radiation is used for sterilizing medical equipment and vegetables. It is used in chemotherapy. Sunlight consists of different types of radiation which we use in different ways. Ex: Infrared radiation is used in sonar.
It is a branch of science which deals with the study of radiation emitted from different compounds/Stars to identify their composition based on the wavelength of radiation present in it. Thanks to this technique scientists are able to find the composition of faraway stars and planets precisely.
It is defined as the constant movement of water above and below the surface of the earth. First, water is evaporated from oceans, plants, and soil due to Sun radiation. This process absorbs energy from the atmosphere.
This water vapor moves up in the atmosphere due to buoyancy and condenses. This condensed water vapor forms clouds and water return to land in the form of rain. During the process of rain, the energy is released into the atmosphere.
Some part of this rainwater sinks into the ground and the rest forms lakes, rivers. This underground water is essential for trees to grow, and for human drinking water. The water in rivers washes up rocks and brings nutrients into the sea thus providing the essential food for aquatic life.
This warming and cooling of the atmosphere will cause temperature changes which in turn affect the climate of the region.
Every substance we see on earth consists of various elements. All these elements are formed in the sun’s core millions of years ago when the earth was part of the sun. Elements are byproducts of nuclear fission in stars. In a way, our bodies are made up of matter which was once part of the very star that now we call as Sun.
When sun rays reach the surface, some part of it is absorbed and the rest is reflected back. This reflected energy gets absorbed by so-called Greenhouse Gases(Carbon dioxide, water vapor, Nitrous oxide, etc,.).Due to the absorption of this energy earth gets warm. This phenomenon of warming of the earth surface is called the Greenhouse Effect.
It is an essential process to maintain the correct temperature required for the sustenance of life. Nowadays due to the increase in greenhouse gases(Due to pollution)in the atmosphere, Earth is getting dangerously warmer resulting in the melting of ice caps, etc.
The role of the sun and its energy in defining us and our lifestyle is too much to not know but it is sadly underrated. Having known the importance of Solar energy in our daily life I hope you appreciate sunlight more the next time you go for a stroll.