#BAFact: The amount of energy the Sun emits in one second is enough to run the entire world for almost a million years.

The Sun is pretty freakin' colossal. The energy it emits is nothing short of mind-numbing.

In a single second, it blasts out about 4 x 10^26 Joules of energy - that's 400,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Joules! 

I know, a Joule is a weird unit. But we can compare it to how much energy we humans use here on Earth. The world's consumption of energy in 2008 was 4.7 x 10^20 Joules (via Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_energy_consumption). 

Dividing the two, we see that in one second the Sun emits almost a million times as much energy as our whole planet consumes in an entire year.

So yeah. The Sun is awesome.

[Image: NASA/SDO]
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259 comments
 
But, what would we do at night? That's when I need to post to Facebook. I need my router to work... I have cat pictures and meme's to post. (Kidding...)
 
Park a solar array in orbit around the sun and send it back via microwave transmission al'la SimCity?
 
An interesting sidebar calculation is to determine how much of that energy can be intercepted by Earth's 'profile". Fractionally (an inverse square problem), it is very small, but still enormous.
 
Esteemed Philip , Marta and Jennifer, all the best to you all . Have a nice Christmas Eve .
 
Very enlightening! What's also amazing is the sun is an average size star. There are much bigger ones out there!!!
 
If only we had a Dyson Sphere
 
How about the degree of entropy of the radiation emitted by the sun? It's what makes the energy of the sun usable.
John H
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Thanks +Gary Rudd that was excellent, I was looking for something like that just this past weekend!  Shows how small we are perfectly.
 
With a fact like that, how can anybody believe this universe was made by accident...
Gary Rudd
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I do! to ME it makes infinitely more sense then "built" by some invisable mystical "person" who looks like man .. but I'm not here for a religious debate - just enjoying the wonders of universe!
 
Not sure what high energy physics has to do with accidents or purpose.  Regardless, a nice perspective on scale.  It's even more impressive when you consider that our sun is really rather modest in size and energy output, compared to other stars.
 
So let's begin construction on our Dyson Sphere so I can stop getting my butt kicked at the pump.
 
Of all the Suns I know, it's the closest one to us. It's the best! All natural, too!
 
You are a freak in geek ..... I wish I was as smart as you are, science is wonderful
 
Dont bother dividing the two you can see the increase by the orders of magnitude you fool
 
I bought about 25 acres of sun the other day....... Moving there when it cools off
 
Awesome, yes . . . But; Also responsible for global warming and climate change.  To save the environment from this overgrown nuclear blast furnace, it should be put out . . . Maybe we can compromise and have it only shine half the time . . . Like just during the day and go out at night!
 
Very wild. Thanks for the post!
 
I thought Joule was a hippy-chick folk singer.....
 
Staggering really. While reading a kids encyclopedia of space facts with my son the other day I also learnt that the temperature of the sun's core is 15,000,000 (15 million) degrees Celsius.
 
Wow! That's alot of energy. If I didn't know better, I might even suspect all that energy might have something to do with the temperature of the Earth.
 
So the question is when do we build a gigantic energy collector all the way around the sun and...profit!
 
It is a pity that we can't make effective use of it. Imagine how much better off we would be. 
 
Now we only need to figure out how to properly harvest, convert and transmit all the energy of the sun for one second (OK, one millisecond will be more than enough) and we're done. Piece of cake.
 
That is why it makes so much sense to burn fossil fuel instead of harnessing solar power
 
Hmmmm...... I have an awesome idea to solve the world's energy problems! Why don't we make a HUGE hydrogen fusion reactor. Then, to store it (and prevent accidents from damaging anything) we put it in the SKY. Energy problems solved. :D
 
Its efficiency level is awfully low, however.  For the amount of light it outputs with the given amount of power consumed in order to do so, it's got a very large amount of wasted energy in the form of heat.  I recommend replacing it with an LED post-haste as a "green" measure to improve energy efficiency.  
 
Nice post! Note that even if we only capture a fraction of the energy that the Sun sends our way, we'll have energy to spare. On Earth we are right now doubling the amount of solar panels every two years. We're going to see a new energy economy pretty soon. 
 
It amazes me more how a simple, yet amazing, fact has been subverted several times in this comments stream by anti-ACC advocates and god-botherers......how bout you ppl leave the thinking to Mr Plait and associates
 
Its ironic that we still squeezing our planet seeking for oil, instead of develop technology to take advantage of our marvelous sun.
 
if only we could find a way to harness this said energy, then we'd be set for "life"
 
Imagine if there's a species so advanced that they could harness energy from stars. INFINITE POWER
 
Dyson Spheres......they're not just for vacuum cleaners/sweepers anymore.
 
Awsome,. Blessed be the lord for his awsome creation
 
Crap.....it was just a matter of time before the effing fruit loops showed up.
 
Thanks for keepin' it SI! 
 
yes, the sun is freaking amazing and we better say in our exact orbit or we will have global warming or maybe global iceage again. Just saying
Karl Ho
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Hope new technology will soon be available for harvesting the sun's energy more efficiently.
 
Well, why don't u run a cable then an start giving us energy...
 
But only planets give it the meaning of life
 
Capturing it is a bitch though. Whole melting thing takes all the fun out of it.
 
Why are there soooo many 'Sun' threads coming out the last few days?
 
But this planet give meaning to life
 
+Juan Sarges  Only because we were placed within the Circumstellar Habitable Zone. The planet itself had nothing to do with that, and we owe it nothing for being the right distance away.
 
That's nothing. If you convert the crap that comes out my mother-in-law's mouth into energy, it would power the sun for a thousand years.
 
We need to have a serious conversation about utilizing this untapped resource for our use. That is why it there.
 
God can blow it out like a candle, let's pray he won't do it tonight.
 
+Brad Garner said it first.
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyson_sphere
Woulda had to start when we had a lot of carbon. Like 1890. I don't think we'll have the economy to invest in liquid hydrogen rockets to get anywhere. To the moon, space lab then peak US oil in 1977. All down hill from there. Debt economy, oil wars, oh well. 
 
The true mark of an advanced species is how efficiently it can harness the energy of the star it orbits. I'd say we have a line at to go. Why we still bicker over fossil fuels is unreal. 
 
There is no god.... stop that god crap...
 
Re: Sol vs VY Canis Majoris - to help put it's size in perspective, Sol is 93 million miles away. And you can easily see it! How big is it to see at that distance? Now, consider how big Canis Majoris is (visually).
 
Let's build a motherfucking dyson sphere!
'Murica wants a deathstar - guess which star is gonna be used as power source...
 
+Craig Vowel crafirst of all the sun isnt responsable for climate change, the greenhouse gasses that are trapped inside our atmosphere are. And it would be sweet to have control of the sun like that but because of the amount of time it takes the light and heat to reach us, It would seem to me theres a good possibility we would freeze to death if we had no sun at all for 24 hrs. 
 
+Amila De Silva  Sigh. Nooo, we all just got flung out of nothing... there was nothing... then.. SUDDENLY... there was everything... and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is 'science.' Right?
 
It's nature. Shit happens, and when it happens it happens.
 
Just because it is there, should we use it recklessly. Or should we be like government, spend it into the future. the heck with those who follow.
 
I respect your opinion, De Silva, but I have a vacuum bottle sitting on my dresser. I've waited for a long time for a universe to explode out of it, but it hasn't happened yet. True, I won't be here millions of years to watch it, but I'm reaaaaaaaally thinking that a billion years from now ... it'd still be empty.
 
Lol, the big bang ain't gonna happen in a bottle.. :P
But like I always say to people, universe itself is a mystery. For all we know, the big bang may have never happened. Something else must have created it. But definitely not god.
Or maybe nature IS god?
 
it only shows the power of God.
 
RE: Amila. Interestingly, Richard Dawkins (world-famous Oxford atheist for those who don't know) says that life on earth must have been created. He says it was created by infinitely intelligent alien life. He says it had to be very powerful ... very knowledgeable ... very big ... but ... definitely not God. Why not, pray tell, Richard?
 
Silva bet you call on God like a baby when you're faced with the smallest difficulty.  Everybody does.
 
And for those like Dawkins who believe in the theory of panspermia, you still have to explain the existence of the prior intelligence. That's usually done by appealing to an intelligence behind THAT one, ad infinitum. But it's impossible for an infinite series of events to have transpired in the past, and sooner or later, you come to a place where whatever you have had to have come from nowhere.
 
No no its not, my v12 Mercedes is what makes the ice melt. Have purchase a 10 acre parcel in southern Greenland before the land rush begins
 
+Sev Lima You don't know me..
Fuck God. I'm an atheist. Never prayed for god or all that bullshit.
Millions pray for that crap and got nothing out of it. It's all fake. People like you and blinded by rose tinted glasses. 

Reality is there is NO god. But people want to believe in something and that is called hope. Nothing wrong with that but it goes too far that religion (any type) actually killed people instead of bringing out the good.
 
Amila, when did you become an atheist in life?
 
Very interresting i did know this fact thank you sir
 
Since mum spat me out 26 years ago. Lol

My parents never push that crap on to me. They let me make my choice. In fact never made a choice. It just how I became.
 
+Amila De Silva  is easy for some people to deny the existence of God, but at the same time is hard for them to explain why everything is in perfect order.   i don't need to explain myself, we are mature people here....I think.
 
Interesting. If you don't mind my asking, how do you provide a basis for morality once you deny the existence of an omnipotent Being to establish such a standard?
 
+Eduardo Riv everything is in perfect order? yeah, sure... a guy gunning down 20 kids in an elementary school is in such perfect order.... what a dumbass you are
 
I'm a Christ follower, and I like what Nick is saying here, but I easily concede that I cannot understand our Creator's existence. As my Dad puts it - if God made us, who made God? Still, I am a believer, and I am very convinced in Creation. I don't think that people who disagree are idiots - I care very much about many such people. I don't really know why people feel the desire to call people idiots on posts like this. Oh, well - it's not the end of the world :)
 
+Nick Larson you forget to take your meds? you really think some mythological magic genie in the sky is the foundation of "morality", which by the way is SUBJECTIVE and differs culture to culture... uneducated, low IQ, low income dumbass hillbilly
 
Where is the evidence that god exists?
Evidence of nature is everywhere around us, heck... we even have videos and documentaries of amazing things in creation via chemical reaction. (Nature at work)

And for those who said "why everything is in perfect order?". That is because it is from hundreds of millions of years of evolution. Life adapts. Will will continue to do so.
 
+Nick Larson That is a silly question. We are constantly trying to define and redefine 'morality' and it has never been as simple as an omnipotent being establishing it for us. When have we ever had it that easy as humans? 
 
There is no such thing as an intelligent person or anyone with an above average IQ who believes in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy (i.e. "God")... sorry... thats why only very poor, low income trailer trash believe in all that nonsense... they're stupid
 
So the religious and anti-religious nuts have hijacked another post about nature. Typical.
 
This is a posting of how the sun can provide energy to our world for almost a million years on a social networking site that is on the internet which has connected literally billions of people to each other which is what we would like to call technology.....Im not religous i just like to ride the waves i suppose. but look around, something special has, is and will continue to be happening on this place we call earth (home)
 
Im sick of this very tiny minority of people that believe in nonsense like "god" hijacking threads... they are so anti math, anti science, anti freedom.... good that these whack jobs are diminishing in numbers every year.  Intelligence and decency will prevail and religious types will die out.
 
Hey hey! That is why the bible says, 'the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight.' no one will understand the nature of God because of 'sin'. However, God is the alpha and Omega. Beginning and the end & absolutely beyond description. NO ONE CREATED HIM. 
 
GOD HOLDS THE UNIVERSE IN HIS PALM!
 
That's weird. How did a post about the sun turn into a discussion on mythology?
 
The amount of bullshit here is astonishing... I'm out.
Have fun praying to nothing. :P
 
GOD HOLDS THE UNIVERSE IN THE PALM OF HIS HAND. He is awesome!
 
+ben chuma the bible? (rolls eyes) the bible is a book written in 508 BC... its not considered historic documentation in case you didnt notice... NO ONE TAKES IT SERIOUSLY... hate to tell you, but it was written by people who based it on other religions... new testament the same... its just a book of fiction... get real dumbass
 
...........and yet it's one of the smallest stars when compared to others in the galaxy. pretty amazing
 
I believe my friend Nick Larson is correct on this topic there wasn't nothing then BOOM! everything someONE! had to put it all in place!
 
+ben chuma You're the reason G+ needs a -1 button. What are you doing posting this shit in a scientific post? It has no place here, what were you thinking? The only thing I can see is you're either a weak troll or you're trying to convert people and this might explain some of the vitriole you're getting
 
I will believe in evolution as soon as my pitbull dog turns into a cat. 
 
Nice post, nice day to post it as well.
 
The bible is the LIVING WORD. Try it. Everythng about the solar & staff was even recorded b4 the so-called intelligent people existed. If u dont believe its ok. End of story!
 
Ok. The bible is the LIVING WORD.. Everythng about the solar & staff was even recorded b4 the so-called intelligent people existed. If u dont believe its ok. End of story!
 
+Sev Lima Wow, you are so fucking dumb.

I feel sorry for you. You need to attend the Mental institution of the spastic people. They will help you.
 
Silva Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  God bless.
 
duh...who are you? captain obvious??
 
Now harness it.. 
 
Then all we need to do is find a way to extract energy from the sun.
 
Voltage set up in a chloroplast membrane. 
 
+Nick Larson I'm very interested in what you say about Dawkins, perhaps you could provide a link on that? I only ask as I listened to a radio interview where he was asked this question...he said he didn't believe that life was put here by Aliens, he actually laughed at the notion (sort of)

Maybe this is what you BELIEVE, and we all know you don't feel that you have to back up your beliefs. Prove me wrong, provide a link and shut me up.

I get that you're an internet troll, I enjoy it when our paths cross but never find myself on religious threads preaching any of this crazy science at you guys.
 Keep believing that God made you from dust/mud or whatever and that he sent a part of himself down to earth so that man could kill it in order to be forgiven for eating an apple. Your ideas on how things work make much more sense!
 
I was taught that 1joule=1watt.
 
Meh, just use TW (terawatts) to explain it. Currently, the world consumes 500 TW of power every 25 years, that's 20 TW per year. The sun produces a million times that amount of power (that we can measure) in only a second. #Science
 
And this is only a small tiny star in a small galaxy. The universe is an amazing, perfect creation despite we accept it or not.
 
No one can be told what the matrix is
 
Anyone can be told, but they can't be made to believe.
 
You dame right the sun is AWESOME!! The sun is the life giver, and in 5 billion years or so...A life taker. Love the sun. 
 
WHAT! We're wasting it?
 
@ David. Think where we would be with "solar implemented  devices" if it not for the Big three energies stifling solar power! 
 
+Sean Finkelstein Only 5 billion? I kind of doubt it's only going to be that long. They still have yet to actually prove start death, it's more of a highly regarded theory. But, still, a truly gargantuan statement full of wonder indeed.

You're totally right about economic constraints on power efficient innovations. Energy companies won't allow the government to sanction the last step of the Solar Roadway's research. They're so narrow minded, and too cheap to invest in a system that's far more lucrative.
 
Dude have some eggnog! Merry Christmas.
 
Cool. . .but only if humans could actually harvest the energy of the sun, and not just in solar panels, solar water heater, cookers, etc. . .it would definitely make a difference
 
Absolutely! Merry Christmas.
 
We are running out of our crust coal. We indiscriminately digging out our planet earth. Steps should be taken to explore new source of energy    
 
I've thought for years that most places on earth get a pretty big dose of free energy every day that's relatively safe to harness. In my opinion man, industry and society in general should begin transitioning to harvest this power. 
 
This's a really great post!
 
Imagine if we can harness it more efficiently
 
Time for get ready to drink ijo de la reata jjaaa merry Christmas amigos. 
 
It's like watching two fleas argue over who owns the dog they live on...
 
I read an article back in May about a solar array that the Germans have made that on an optimal day can produce more energy than 21 nuclear plants combined.  We need more of those and investment in such things. 
 
Now let's trap that energy and get to work.
 
beautiful bright light display
 
In time I'm sure a combination of energy till it's all one source. But
don't think that's good either.
 
It is because of the sun's energy that the earthly life is literally surviving.
 
Yet, solar energy is the most expensive...
 
Y not make the sun work for nosotros k. No
 
Ya incredible hue? Just think if every person could experience that, how
humbling.
 
Wow so we are going to die or not
 
Using e = mc^2 you can calculate how much energy it would take to propel a spaceship to sublight velocities. Realistically, how would we communicate with the craft? Look at the electromagnetic communication that we receive from the stars. It's not much. So to communicate with a starship would appear to require a significant controllable source of focusable electromagnetic energy (like the power of a star)!
 
Well someday probably. Then what? Who knows. Live and love!
 
That's why we need diversity! Who'd you agree Jose Merry Christmas!
 
Well maybe well destroy are selves before that huh? Or I'm sure well figure
another alternative.
 
Merry Christmas to you too. But I was thinking on a level higher than the
one related to the diversity discourse. Mankind was born to be diverse.
 
You cant capture more energy and send it to the earth. The earth has a specific capacity for retransmitting the energy back into space. Everyone needs to look into albedo. PS it aint carbon dioxide thats "holding it in" . 
 
yes.. v hav to obtain this energy in future....
 
And yet our sun is smaller than most other stars out there. VY Canis Majoris makes our sun look like a grain of sand by comparison.
 
Just remember, in ~500 million years, the Sun will have accumulated enough helium ash that its output will likely render Earth uninhabitable.

We should be working out techniques to remove degenerate helium from the heart of the Sun now, so there's no rush later.
 
Glad your ganna start working on that Ken.
 
This is why we don't need to be worried about energy. We're going to start mining in space.
 
Me and a co-worker were talking last night... Why do we store old nuke stuff in the ground? Why not shoot it to the sun?
Serious question....
 
Yet it is prohibitively expensive to use solar for base load. It's still at least 50 years away from being viable. 
 
I heard that people are trying to master how the sun works to run earth on the power which would be clean 
 
"Interesting",very interesting
 
We are humble entities of humankind and do not wish to exploit your resources,Mr.Sun
Translate
 
Free energy for all!!!  Lets all use solar panels.
 
And humans still rely on flammable liquids produced by dead dinosaurs.

Yeah, there's hydrocarbon in Titan.
 
Sir , very good u have enlighten us,tq
 
Shame we couldn't harness that somehow then we wouldnt have to turn earth inside out looking for fossil fuels
 
yeah and probably before learning how to utilize that energy we will learn to produce our small stars by fusion

 
The problem is, we only can utilise one billionth or more of that energy. 
 
This is just the sun, how about not far away, something called human body for years we tried to creat a robot to act like or better and smarter than us but we couldnt, because we couldnt install in it a program called soul. Guys there is miracles around us. Another thing the universe is moving to a destination unknown why?
 
What energy crisis..... We have an almost limitless supply of energy within our grasp, however it all comes down to one thing:$! As long as conventional fossil fuels are cheap to extract solar energy will not be taken seriously. 
 
Powerful insight,
It looks like that the Sun has been Crossed ( saved)
Merry Christmas to all who dwell in the light
 
Who ever created the sun has even more POWER... Thank GOD!!!
 
Decent nugget if information, thanks mate 
 
Why is it so difficult to harness?
 
And the amount of natural resources rrquiredbto get 1% of that would turn the world into a wasteland / black mirrored polygon 
 
Hard to harness because only a miniscule percentage of all that energy is released in our direction.  This is why a Dyson sphere would be so incredibly efficient.
 
When I divide the area of a sphere with the radius of Earth's semi major axis by the area of a circle with the Earth's mean radius I get that the Sun puts out 1.838e+8 times the energy that he Earth intercepts.

 
Sorry, bad math. Now I get 2.2 x 10^9 time ...
 
Yes the sun is the best source of energy we have not fossil fuels
 
the only thing that i need to do is to sleep all the time if we are able use most or all of them one day. 
 
It would be nice to device a way to store the sun's energy for use and scrap all the nuclear plants being built.
 
That's one heck of a light bulb! (Oh, my jaw is still dropped.)
 
surface of sphere in what the earth moves = 1878976000 km^2
surface of projected earth in that sphere = 40054 km^2
that makes about 1878976000/40054 = 0,0000213 part of solar energy commes to earth.
0.0000213*4*10^26 = 8,53*10^21 Joules each second!!!
we need 1.5*10^13 Joules each second (world's consumption of energy in 2008 was 4.7*10^20 Joules)
Sun could give us 5.72*10^8 times what we need!!!! If we only could catch it!!!!!!
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