Sun and science – Beliefs and proofs

via published on August 2, 2008

The Sun has a prominent place in the galaxy. The solar system of the universe comprising nine planets revolves around the sun. Hindus, who have an ancient tradition of worshiping Nature, naturally have the Sun God in their pantheon.

‘Surya Namaskaram’, a worshipping concept, forms a part of the country’s cultural heritage and it also serves as an exercise to keep the body fit and the mind in peace. Surya Namaskaram is a part of ‘Sandhya Vandhana’ and ‘Yoga’ and it helps the various parts of the human body to rejuvenate and keeps them active throughout the day. Joints and muscles are tuned and the early morning rays are good for the skin too. The sun’s rays also help in regulating Vitamin-D and Calcium contents in the body. It even prevents attack of germs and infections. It delays the ageing process. Surya Namaskaram must be performed preferably in open space or in a well ventilated place with minimum and lose clothing.

Observance of certain rituals on Sundays, the day of Sun God, helps in protecting the skin and eyes. Doing pooja with red flowers after performing Surya Namaskaram is believed to provide peace of mind.  Eating only once and fasting after sunset throughout the night helps prevent skin diseases and eye ailments.

The age-old belief of worshiping the Sun with Lotus has been vindicated by science. The sunrise and its rays create changes inside the lotus leading to its blossoming by expansion of the petals. Though it happens to other flowers also, lotus is special in the sense that the outside changes are clearly visible to us, as its closing and blossoming is directly connected with the sunset and sunrise.  It is believed that the evening sun does not have the same power as the morning sun, which is again scientifically established. When the evening sunrays pass through the ozone layer, a portion of it react with the atomic particles and spread far and wide thereby diminishing the length of the rays resulting in their vanishing from the space. The leftover rays get the red colour and that is why we see the setting sun as red and orange.

There is a tradition of avoiding seeing sun with the naked eye during the time of eclipse. Though rationalists have ridiculed this as a blind belief, modern science has affirmed this age-old tenet. When one attempts to see the sun during normal time, the power of the rays forces the eyelid to close and hence the eyes get automatically protected. But, during the time of eclipse, when the moon comes between the earth and the sun, one will be able to stare at the sun without any problem, as most of it is overshadowed. What one does not realise is the fact that the rays from the non-shadowed part will have the same effect (as that of normal portion), which will badly affect the ‘retina’ resulting in partial or full blindness.

The sun, which is situated at a distance of approximately 152 Million kilometers from the earth, has a temperature of 580 Kelvin at the surface and 15.6 crore Kelvin at the centre. Sun’s diameter is 1.4 Million kilometers and its 70 crore tons of hydrogen gets converted to 69.5 crore tons of helium every second. Its power is generated due to the nuclear fission and every second it emits ‘Gama’ rays with a power of 50 lakh tons. The sun is approximately 450 crore years old and it is expected to survive with the same amount of heat for another 500 crore years. Since ancient times, it is believed that the blindness caused by the sunrays is the curse of the Sun God.

(With inputs from Venganur Bala krishan’s ‘Thaliyolai’)

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