There’s a picture of some bogglement doing the rounds on the inter webs, created by wimp.com. Here it is.
It’s a clever story. It starts gently and in familiar territory, scaling from small planets to large planets to stars, our Sun and Sirius. So far, so good. That’s why the lurch between panels three and four, and four and five, have the impact of a nineteenth-century Cornish lummock-woggler’s moolie hitting a cordwangler’s splod in an alien place.
It’s an abstract, really, of this video.
The final and biggest star in this selection, VY Canis Majoris, is the largest star so far known. If placed at the centre of our Solar System, its surface would be somewhere between the orbits of Jupiter and Saturn. The problem, though, is defining what is meant by a stellar surface. The average density of this star is a thousandth that of air on Earth at sea level. Given that the core must be dense enough to fuse, the density close to the ‘surface’ is hardly more than that of empty space.
But I digress.
All this interstellar overdrive, gigantic balls of incandescent gas and general brouhaha is by way of saying that we’re going all out to be eco-friendly at the Maison des Girrafes. Not content with recycling, composting, saving every drop of rainwater, giving most of our food scraps to the chickens, and bathing with a friend, we’re just about to take delivery of twelve 250w photovoltaic solar panels. The scaffolding is already up – the engineers arrive tomorrow, hopefully, to install these giant slices of silicon onto the southern and western elevations of the M des Gs. We’ll soon be microgeneratin’ fit to be tied. Our electricity bills will go down – and the government will pay us for everything our panels generate, even if we use all of it ourselves. Peanuts to VY Canis Majoris, but we’re doing our bit to save our insignificantly small planet.
Update, 15 June, about tea time.
Well, here it is.
The two installers started in bright sunshine, but were briefly assailed by thunder and lightning. Handling electrical equipment on an exposed roof in such conditions, said one of them, could be hazardous. But they persevered, the storm passed, the sun shone again, and neither man ended up frizzled, blown from the roof, or both.
But wait, there’s more. An electrician connected the array to an inverter in the loft. This device turns the DC current from the panels into AC, suitable for feeding into the grid. He then connected the set-up to the electricity supply by way of a dedicated meter, which tells us how much electricity we’ve generated. Hardly had the electrician put it all together than we clocked up 0.5 kWh of our very own electricity, which I’m using to type this sentence. Amazing, huh?
Update, 16 June, about tea time.
<smug>A day has passed since installation. My meter tells me we’ve generated 5.3 kWh of electricity. As our daily consumption is less than 4 kWh, this means that we have become net contributors to the nation’s electricity supply.</smug>