I’m going to try to explain an equation.

Yes, an equation. Try to stay awake at the back.

I’m going to explain it in simple terms, as I understand it. I only have an A-Level in Physics, so all you clever science buffs can feel free to correct me.

For all you non-science people, stick with me because you might learn something.

Here it is:


This is an amazing, elegant equation. (I know it’s not strictly 100% accurate, but it’s close enough and everyone has heard of it).

E = energy
m = mass (think “weight”)
c = the speed of light (about 300,000 km per second, or 186,000 miles per second)

Now keep that in mind.

Our sun is a star. And a fairly unremarkable one at that, apparently. What stars do is release energy (E) in the form of light and other types of radiation.

To do this, they need fuel.

That fuel is hydrogen, the simplest atom in the Universe.

It works on probability. There is simply so much hydrogen in a star, and they are so massive, that they are smashing into each other all the time.

The hydrogen atoms will then fuse, to become helium.

The interesting thing is that helium has very very slightly less mass than the total mass of the hydrogen atoms that created it. This amount is absolutely tiny, but that doesn’t matter:

This mass difference (m) is lost as energy (E).

How much energy?

The mass difference between the helium atom and the hydrogen atoms that created it, m

Multiplied by the speed of light squared.

i.e. multiplied by the speed of light multiplied by the speed of light.

This tiny number then becomes a big number. And in our sun, this happens millions of times per second.

The energy that is released is hurled out into space, some of it hitting our planet and becoming the source for all life on Earth. All from some hydrogen smashing together.

I find this amazing, every time I think about it.


Given the right conditions, even tiny things can have huge consequences.



*Disclaimer: this blog post is for entertainment purposes only and any opinions contained therein do not necessarily represent those of the author.

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