Every spring, the sun seems newly discovered. I take it for granted most of the time; instead, worrying about painting the house, washing the truck or ninth grade math homework.
But sometimes I notice and it can occur during the most mundane errand, like refilling my blood pressure prescription. I’m walking across the parking lot and suddenly notice the sun warming my skin.
Some ancient reptilian area of your brain wakes up and the thought comes to mind – stop and bask, photosynthesize a while. Get in your car and sit a moment in the sunshine and feel the warmth come over your body.
The sun is the single most dominant force on the planet (at least in our little corner of the solar system). You have to travel a dozen light years to find a star that can compete with the sun.
Sun worship has waxed and waned through human history, but it certainly has to be seen as one of the dominant belief systems as people struggle to find their place in the universe.
The sun is pretty hard to ignore. Its radius is about 100 times the radius of the Earth and about a quarter million times the mass (weight) of our planet. It’s made of hot plasma and magnetic fields; whatever that means. That doesn’t even sound like something from our universe.
The sun is almost entirely made of hydrogen. It’s a giant nuclear reactor fusing hydrogen into helium at the rate of approximately 600 million metric tons a second. And we are eight minutes away as sunlight travels. A little closer or a bit further away gives you a frozen planet or a cinder of one.
You can think of the Earth as surfing on a great wave of sunshine energy. With a little luck we can do it another 4 billion years – talk about endless summer. Maybe the Beach Boys were right!
Our entire planet runs on less than 1 percent of the energy put out by the sun. That is ultimately the energy budget for everything that we do, think, consume or look at. Without our 1 percent of sunshine, none of us would be here, not even Apple.
And while we’re basking in the sunshine, notice that our sun rotates around the center of the Milky Way galaxy like a giant clock, once every 225 to 250 million years. All of human history has occurred in a couple of seconds as counted on this timepiece.
The next time you walk outside, stop and savor this microsecond in cosmic time that allows you to be effortlessly balanced between forces of unimaginable strength. It’s a moment that should bring a smile to your face.
Take care and have a sunny day.
Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.
Image courtesy of graur codrin /