back to article Don't panic... but our fragile world is drifting away from the Sun

As the Sun ages and sheds mass, the gravitational pull it exerts on its planets weakens. That means that the orbits of those home worlds slowly expand over time. Now, scientists have calculated this shift, and published the figures in Nature Communications on Thursday. The Sun is continuously ditching material as its charged …

  1. Lord Kipper III

    Where's my towel?

    Great. Thanks, I won't panic then. Oh, hang on. I have a house full of computing gear with Intel processors, our Chromecasts are regularly DDoSing our wifi and Donald Trump is still US president.

    Perhaps I will panic after all.

    <glass _half_full>The good news is I suppose that as Earth is getting further away from the Sun, the possibility of our home planet plunging into the Sun is receding.</glass _half_full>

    1. TRT Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Where's my towel?

      Don't panic! Says who? The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy was only written in 1978, just 40 years ago, and then the Earth orbited the sun at a distance of roughly 92 million miles. That's now gone up to roughly 93 million miles. That's 25,000 miles a year! At that rate of drift, we'll be doing Moonbase Alpha impersonations before my great, great, great grandchildren are out of nappies!

      Mine's the one with the Eagle authorised com-lock in the pocket.

    2. Scott 1
      Coat

      Re: Where's my towel?

      <glass_half_ridiculous> Maybe it'll counteract some of this global warming we've been experiencing. </glass_half_ridiculous>

    3. DamnedIfIKnow

      Re: Where's my towel?

      No.

      Because eventually the sun will expand to meet us!

    4. Oh Homer

      Actually this was all planned millennia ago

      Earth has been secretly plotting to escape from Sol for years, before it blows up and takes us all with it. It's already put down a deposit for its new home in the Pavo constellation. All that's left to do is book the removal lorry and call a taxi.

  2. Qwertius

    Can't wait for the MSMedia to blame this on Man Made Global Warming / Climate Change.

    1. 45RPM

      So, let me get this straight, are you nailing your climate change denying colours to the mast by trying to conflate two entirely different conversations? And do you have some kind of Trumpist problem with main stream media? Do you, for example, prefer a conspiracy hypothesis (theory being too solid a term for the nonsense peddled by the alt-right) to a carefully researched story?

      I think what I’m trying to get at is, are you a troll or are you howling at the moon stupid?

      1. Scroticus Canis
        Pint

        @45RPM - did you accidentally bump the lever to 78 RPM this morning?

        Dial it back to 33 RPM and chill a bit.

    2. Dr_N Silver badge

      Damn MSMedia. With their "theories" about the Earth not being flat and circling the sun!

    3. Outski
      Joke

      MS Media

      MS Media - is that a basic video editing thing in Windows, to go with MS Paint?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I would have thought that if the earth is moving away from the sun, it will get cooler so we will need global warming to compensate.

      But that's me being a cynic with tongue in cheek....

      1. PNGuinn
        Joke

        PANIC! PANIC!

        So, as the sun runs away from us, it'll get colder. No Global Warming, Climate Change Hype* etc etc.

        Don't you realise that a whole alarmist industry is about to go down the crapper??

        Pundits will starve. Parasitical Panic merchants will go mad. KITTENS WILL DIE.

        Lets Party like it's a Maunder Minimum - Frost Fairs ahoy!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        planet cooling

        That's a great idea. I proudly yet angrily award you the polluting medal of pollution.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: planet cooling

          "That's a great idea. I proudly yet angrily award you the polluting medal of pollution."

          Can I have one, too?

          I used to love my X-Trail diesel, especially when a couple of the injectors were wearing out. I could build up soot in the exhaust by driving like an environmental saint so the turbocharger slept. Mile after mile of safe, boring driving. But then, overtaking a posse of cyclists, I'd be able to floor the pedal, the turbo would kick in, and all that soot would be blasted out, and I'd be laying smoke like a destroyer. It was magic.

          My new car's disgustingly clean. I'm wondering if I can retrofit some extras, like separate dispensers for chilli powder, ash, anthrax, rubbish, wasps nests, and anti-bike tacks.

          1. unwarranted triumphalism

            Re: planet cooling

            What a sad and lonely existence you must lead.

      3. Robert Moore
        Coat

        I would have thought that if the earth is moving away from the sun, it will get cooler so we will need global warming to compensate.

        But that's me being a cynic with tongue in cheek....

        That's it I am headed right out to buy the biggest SUV I can find.

      4. smartermind

        Climate change not global warming.

        True, if "global warming" was a thing, but, as it's actually climate change, with weather extremes at both ends, the joke must fall flat.

        Also the Earth can be further away from the Sun and hotter, just as Venus is hotter than Mercury, but is further from the Sun.

    5. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Global warming

      Surely you and your masters will be able to construct some argument showing that, as the Earth is moving away from the Sun, temperatures will actually decrease slowly thus showing that global warming is just a giant hoax to keep us liberal-elite-science-believers in jobs?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The sun and the planets were man made?

      Why didn't they teach me that at school? Oh wait I remember now, it's because it's b*llocks.

      I think you'll find that global warming is in fact real and it's down to our lizard overlords making the planet more hospitable for them.

    7. theblackhand Silver badge

      "Can't wait for the MSMedia to blame this on Man Made Global Warming / Climate Change."

      You idiot! Can't you see that global warming is the only thing that can save us from the suns weakening power?

      Quick - to the V8's!!!!

      (cue Tina Turner....)

    8. unwarranted triumphalism

      Troll harder.

  3. PurpleMoneky
    Mushroom

    So when Sol goes all Red Giant, we wont be extra crispy that quickly?

    Maybe we wont even need to leave if so much mass has been burnt off that our orbit changes even further and we just get some amazing sunsets (or our 100,000,000x great grandchildren will).

    1. Paul Kinsler

      Not the same thing, but somewhat related...

      https://arxiv.org/abs/1711.08550

      The 'Earth Rocket': a Method for Keeping the Earth in the Habitable Zone

      Mark A. Wessels

      The Sun is expected to increase its radiant output by about 10% per billion years. The rate at which the radius of the Earth's orbit would need to increase in order to keep the present value of the Sun's radiant flux at the Earth constant is calculated. The mechanical power required to achieve this is also calculated. Remarkably, this is a small fraction (2.3%) of the total solar flux currently intercepted by the Earth. Treating the Earth itself as a rocket, the thrust required to increase the orbit is found, as well as the rate of mass ejection. The Earth has sufficient mass to maintain this rate for several billion years, allowing for the possibility that the Earth could remain habitable to biological life for billions of years into the future.

    2. Paul Kinsler

      Ah, here is more like what you want, but from 2008

      (see fig.2)

      Distant future of the Sun and Earth revisited

      Klaus-Peter Schroder, Robert C. Smith

      https://arxiv.org/abs/0801.4031

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Ah, here is more like what you want, but from 2008

        One of the authors of the "the new and well-calibrated mass-loss formula" used in the paper probably has to be a bit circumspect about who they hook up with for research purposes.

  4. 0laf Silver badge
    Boffin

    Is this big enough that NASA needs to take it into account went sending it's more distant probes?

    Oh, bloody hell a proper question, I feel a bit weak.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Voyager 2 is about 126AU out from the sun, so when it aims its signals at NASA HQ it only has to point at the sun with a beam which will be 2AU across by the time it gets here. That's just a one-degree angle, but I bet in practice it's a lot wider than that already. So, no, I don't think they'll be spending today hurriedly rewriting the specs for all their planned probe missions. ;-)

      1. 0laf Silver badge
        Boffin

        I was thinking more about orbital insertions (oo'er). They send a probe to Saturn, it takes 5yr to get there and the planet is a couple of meters further away than they thought.

        I guess they deal with tolerances of kilometres not meters.

        1. Named coward

          14cm per year only makes 70cm over the course of 5 years. Probes need plenty of adjustments on the way. For instance, for the 2nd Venus flyby, cassini fired its rockets for 90 whole minutes. Rosetta's initial trajectory was only accurate to about 100km at launch and needed adjustments as it got closer...

        2. mr.K

          I am not sure about this, but I think that we are not actually all that sure where the planets and other objects are. The problem is that with a probe around them we can calculate the distance quite easily down to probably centimetres, but the rest is a bit more tricky. When the probe stick around for a while we can probably triangulate quite well when the earth shifts its position due to its orbit around the sun. But most of the planets we do not have permanent probes around.

          Again, not sure about this, but I think the error of margin on placing objects in the outer solar system can hundreds of kilometres. The adjust the approach visually with navigation cameras. Both due to uncertainty of where the probe is, but also about where the object really is.

  5. alain williams Silver badge

    But the sun is getting hotter

    as it ages, so we need to get away from it to remain at the same temperature.

    There are other effects that contribute to Orbital Decay, but they are also very small in the case of the Earth.

  6. wolfetone Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    You know, after reading the headline I was absolutely shocked. Shocked to the point where I thought death was to be placed upon me shortly.

    Now though I realise that 1.5cm a year isn't anything special, and I'm not going to die, so I've decided to go on YouPorn.

    If it's good enough for Hawians after a missile scare, it's good enough for me.

    Paris icon because, well, I might be a fan.

    1. The Nazz Silver badge

      Clarity required

      Hey Wolfie, when you say you've decided to "go on" YouPorn is that as a star performer, whether single or with others, or merely as a viewer?

      Whilst on, i'm also hearing that 2017 was the hottest (well, maybe one of the top three, depending how they fiddle,er adjust it) years on record - all the way back to 1850 can you believe.

      Not round here it's not, nowhere near. My garden flaura did not like the latter six months of 2017 at all, the weather is currently shit, and i'm flu'd up.

      Yes, i know that local weather, local climate is not the same as Global Warming/Global Change.

      Strange isn't it, the experts would have you believe it's all "man made" warming yet very little if anything is said, never mind being done, to address the explosion of the "man" part.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge

        Re: Clarity required

        "Hey Wolfie, when you say you've decided to "go on" YouPorn is that as a star performer, whether single or with others, or merely as a viewer?"

        Tried. I failed the auditions for Fake Taxi.

        No one told me you actually had to own a cabbies license.

        1. 45RPM

          Re: Clarity required

          @wolfetone

          A fake one will suffice. I'm sure that you can knock one up in moments. How do you think that Uber manage?

      2. 45RPM

        Re: Clarity required

        @The Nazz

        "Strange isn't it, the experts would have you believe it's all "man made" warming yet very little if anything is said, never mind being done, to address the explosion of the "man" part."

        I don't think that there's any doubt about the majority of global warming being anthropogenic. It's a problem - and we need to fix it. But, if I've understood you correctly, you're suggesting that the real problem is that there are just too many of us. If there were fewer of us then we could enjoy eating meat, driving gas guzzling cars, jetting around and generally having a fine old time without causing any problem at all? Is that it? Have I understood correctly? Because, if so, have an upvote.

        It seems to me that there are two solutions to this problem. We can keep shagging and increasing the population, but we'll have to put up with an ascetic, vegan, lifestyle. Or, and this is my preferred solution, we can stop having kids (ideally an average family size of <1 child on average per couple - but <2 on average at most), quarter the population of the planet, and then party like theres no tomorrow. Rewards and bonuses for the winners who manage to get to the end of the ride without having spawned.

        …Which counts me out. I am, I'm afraid to say, a massive hypocrite. But it is the sensible solution.

        1. Rich 11 Silver badge

          Re: Clarity required

          Or, and this is my preferred solution, we can stop having kids (ideally an average family size of <1 child on average per couple - but <2 on average at most), quarter the population of the planet

          Most countries of Europe and North America already have family sizes of below the replacement rate. The rate of population growth in most of the rest of the world has been slowing down since the 1970s; most of the people who will be alive in 2050 have already been born, and the global population is forecast to level out by 2100. The few countries which buck this trend tend to be war-torn ones like Afghanistan and Somalia.

          Given that China's One Child policy had to be abandoned as unworkable (not to mention hated so much that even the CP feared there would be a violent backlash they couldn't control), how do you plan to impose your solution upon the world? Will it involve guns? Or will it involve the wealthier countries providing more international aid to further support the existing, proven path of increasing the provision of healthcare and of women's empowerment?

          1. 45RPM

            Re: Clarity required

            @Rich 11

            "Or will it involve the wealthier countries providing more international aid to further support the existing, proven path of increasing the provision of healthcare and of women's empowerment?"

            I like this idea. Anything which improves equality and furthers education and health has to be a good thing in my book. Besides, the cost of providing aid seems to be small compared with the cost of waging war, for a given improvement in global safety and reduction of terrorism. Not to mention that it's just the right thing to do.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Clarity required

              Zero growth has been tried before and it results in the population controlling growth being overrun.

              Spreading the wealth only works whilst the "rich" local populations remain rich once they approach equality then their local populations rebel since the new rich do not reciprocate.

              Groups such as religions that promote large families would eventually gain control and reduce the rational populations even further than they had themselves already.

              It's all been tried before and that we are still here with the same problem says that the only way out is something new.

              The only viable solution to retain the rational culture currently realising the problem is to expand to new living locations and this would require the wealth not being spread out or squandered but used to futher that aim. Sadly the populations that recognise the problem are mostly capitalist where the wealth is held by individuals who are inherantly just as selfish and irrational as the populations who reject the need for change.

              Unless something radical happens then the old fallbacks of war, famine and disease will do the work for us.

              This problem is far from new but perhaps this time around we might get off the carousel before we loose the tools we need to solve the problem. Certainly though it won't be via wishful dreams of zero growth in rational populations it will only be via making the most of what we have learned and controlling the irrational populations before they destroy all we have gained.

            2. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

              " the cost of providing aid seems to be small compared with the cost of waging war, "

              Unfortunately providing aid does not buy votes... I mean provide jobs on the Clyde.

          2. earl grey Silver badge
            Unhappy

            Re: Clarity required

            "increasing the provision of healthcare and of women's empowerment"

            That won't be the US then.

            1. GrumpyOldBloke

              Re: Clarity required

              Massive pharmaceutical industry that thrives on government mandates and paranoia - it definitely will be the US. If it is a resource rich country or strategically close to one then they can slip a few terrorists and guns in there as well. Provide jobs and make America great again Your tax dollars at work!

          3. ravenviz

            Re: Clarity required

            how do you plan to impose your solution upon the world?

            I propose some sort of space station that only some people get to go on space shuttles and then it blows up the world and then they all go back and have lots of babies. James Bond will return in "FOR YOUR EYES ONLY". The End.

  7. frank ly

    Logical anomaly?

    “But this effect increases with the distance from the Sun. ..."

    “Mercury is the perfect test object for these experiments because it is so sensitive to the gravitational effect and activity of the Sun,"

    Maybe Pluto would be a better test object?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Logical anomaly?

      Have we got eyes on Pluto?

      1. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: Logical anomaly?

        Have we got eyes on Pluto?

        No, but that is in the NSA/GCHQ next 10 year plan.

  8. Bangem

    2nd Law of Thermodynamics

    Entropy is a bit*h

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

      It's why I never bother tidying.

  9. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Set controls

    for the heart of the sun.

    1. Michael Habel Silver badge

      Re: Set controls

      ... fine weather for the concert here this afternoon. I'm standing here in front of the stage,' the reporter lied, 'in the middle of the Rudlit Desert, and with the aid of hyperbinoptic glasses I can just about make out the huge audience cowering there on the horizon all around me. Behind me the speaker stacks rise like a sheer cliff face, and high above me the sun is shining away and doesn't know what's going to hit it. The environmentalists lobby do know what's going to hit it, and they claim that the concert will cause earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes irreparable damage to the atmosphere, and all the usual things that environmentalists usually go on about.

      But I've just had a report that a representative of Disaster Area met with the environmentalists at lunchtime, and had them all shot, so nothing now lies in the way of ...

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: Set controls

        Since Disaster Area play their instruments in a ship in orbit above the planet, or, preferably, another planet, would that make this The Great Gig in the Sky?

  10. lee harvey osmond

    The sun is losing mass?

    All those particles streaming away? Yes.

    And what about all the hydrogen being fused into helium and generating so much heat we can see it glowing 93 million miles away? E = mc^2 and all that? About four million tonnes per second as I once heard Sir Patrick Moore claim?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: The sun is losing mass?

      Those particles streaming away include photons and neutrinos. How do you think they are produced?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The sun is losing mass?

      E = mc^2 - exactly.

      To get some E, you need to sacrifice some m. The mass of the all particles resulting from fusion is somewhat less than that of the inputs to the fusion reaction.

      1. Florida1920

        Re: The sun is losing mass?

        @ AC

        To get some E, you need to sacrifice some m.

        I've been trying to lose some m but I lack the E. Pasta sacrifices to the FSM are not helping.

    3. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: The sun is losing mass?

      Yes, the article is really confused. The Sun loses about 4 million tonnes a second from fusion (ie it turns about 4 million tonnes of hydrogen a second into light), and about 1.5 million tonnes per second due to the solar wind. So fusion is the dominant process here, although they're of the same order.

      Further, what the paper is actually interested in is constraining the gravitational constant, because it's very interesting to know if it's changing obviously. They get a result which has a bound on (dG/dt)/G of the order of 10^-14, which is pretty small.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The sun is losing mass?

      "And what about all the hydrogen being fused into helium and generating so much heat we can see it glowing 93 million miles away? E = mc^2 and all that?"

      Yes I read that recently. Where was it now? Oh, yes, paragraph 3 of the article.

  11. Red Bren
    Coat

    Boldly going

    How long before we break orbit and can go exploring the cosmos from the comfort* of our own planet?

    * Might need to put an extra jumper on...

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Boldly going

      It'd probably be easier to break the moon out of orbit and travel on that.

      1. Michael Thibault

        Re: Boldly going

        The moon? Neither imagination nor ambition! If you can wrangle the moon, you can wrangle it to wrangle the planet -- which is the bigger if.

        1. LaeMing Silver badge

          Re: Boldly going

          You turn a gas-giant into a rocket, using its atmosphere as fuel, and live on the orbiting moons.

          1. Michael Thibault

            Re: Boldly going

            "You turn a gas-giant into a rocket, using its atmosphere as fuel, and live on the orbiting moons."

            Sol has already been successfully ignited, so all that's left to do is to aim it somewhere. The key to solving problems is properly characterizing them.

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Boldly going

      How long before we break orbit and can go exploring the cosmos from the comfort* of our own planet?

      Or city? Maybe it's time to re-read my old copy of Cities in Flight...

  12. Korev Silver badge
    Joke

    Yachting

    I thought that everyone was drifting away from Sun as they got bought out by Oracle

  13. Herbert Meyer
    Boffin

    Mr. Einstein and Gravitational Radiation

    Excuse me, did not a fella with a weird non-haircut say that two masses in orbit about each other were accelerating, and would therefore radiate gravitational waves, releasing energy ? How would that change the orbit ?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Mr. Einstein and Gravitational Radiation

      Good point. It turns out that the Earth is losing about 200 joules per second through gravitational radiation, which translates to an orbital decay of about the width of a proton per day.

      1. Alowe

        Re: Mr. Einstein and Gravitational Radiation

        I'd have thought will all of the millions of tons of material falling on the Earth every day, the increase in mass would balance it out somewhat.

  14. Farnet

    Wage Review time

    Ok, if this is the case then the year must be getting longer; QED spending more time at work.

    Cant wait to point that out in my PDR.......

  15. steelpillow Silver badge
    Boffin

    The long view

    James Lovelock, famous for his Gaia hypothesis, has pointed out how life evolved to cope with the slow heating-up of the Sun as it ages. Basically, Gaia juggles the CO2 content to maintain room temperature, and last time round that was achieved by evolving grass (no, not that kind of grass). But the game is approaching its end as CO2 levels have been driven down and down over geological time.

    It is vital that we reverse our man-made CO2 excesses well below prehistoric levels, before the Sun heats up so much that even grass cannot push it back down far enough. Even borrowing genes from bacteria that live in boiling water, or improving the heatsinks on the CPUs that maintain us as cyber minds, can only buy us a little time. After that, the only way to stay cool will be to nudge our orbit further from the Sun, apparently rather faster than is happening naturally. Always assuming an advanced civilization is still left to do so. And after that, the problem will be how to stay warm after the Sun has collapsed back down again.

    Space colonies, anyone?

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: The long view

      While it's true that the Sun's radiated power is increasing over time, this is such a slow process that we can simply ignore it: we need to worry about still being here (or about an advanced civilisation still being here) in a hundred years, not still being here in half a billion years.

      (not that the whole thing is not interesting: it's just not the global-warming problem we need to be worrying about right now)

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The long view

      " Basically, Gaia juggles the CO2 content to maintain room temperature, and last time round that was achieved by evolving grass"

      Not a very effective juggle. Plants remove CO2 to convert to sugars to respire which converts sugar back into CO2. More fixed carbon is recycled by animals eating the plants and by other animals higher up the food chain. The only net removal of carbon from the atmosphere is by saving some of it as a standing crop which is recycled more slowly by death and decay of the plant. A very small proportion gets stored away as fossil forms of carbon.

      Grass supports grazing animals very well (note the common origin of grass and graze) and the ungrazed vegetative parts don't live long. Apart from on peat lands trees do a much better job than grass of maintaining a large standing crop per unit area. And even peat can be formed from mosses and sedges as well as grasses.

    3. Chris 239

      Re: The long view

      WTF? (are you smoking?)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Space colonies, anyone?"

    it's only a matter of time so long as we don't nuke ourselves first. While I wouldn't like to speculate on FTL travel, we have enough time to develop tech to get us up to say half the speed of light. If we can do that, suddenly a lot more stars become reachable and a mass exodus, generation ship style would be feasible.

    1. GrumpyOldBloke

      Not going to happen. We will still be here fighting with nuclear weapons over the last peanut butter sandwich when it all comes to an end. Some amongst us want all the toys and as long as they can convince the rest to go without in the name of their greed we are stuck.

  17. Detective Emil

    One for the Reg Standards Bureau

    Well, well, well. Something else that grows on the order of 30mm/year. Others are the moon's orbit and the width of the Atlantic. And fingernails. So may I propose a new Reg Standard for low velocity, namely fingernails per annum?

    Incidentally, this concurrence of orbital growth means that the Moon's closest approach to the Sun remains unchanged, even as the Earth drifts away.

  18. steamrunner

    Interplanetary rail costs

    “But this effect increases with the distance from the Sun. Saturn, which is ten-times farther from the Sun than Earth, moves over 14cm per year,” Genova said.

    Typical. Any excuse to increase ticket prices to Saturn.

  19. unwarranted triumphalism

    Gravity is just a theory.

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Gravity is a myth. The Earth sucks.

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Boffin

      It's really Intelligent Falling, as any fule kno:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intelligent_falling

    3. terrythetech
      Boffin

      No, gravity exists. How it works is a theory. In scientific terms a theory is something that hasn't been disproved yet. So far gravity works as predicted pretty damn well. LIGO confirms our best (100 year old) theory of gravity.

      The only fly in the ointment is quantum - damn, where are my dried frog pills.

    4. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Jump out of windows much?

  20. David Nash Silver badge
    Boffin

    Meanwhile...

    The Earth is gaining mass.

    I wonder how much that compensates for the Sun's losing mass?

    Hang on a minute. The orbital distance is related to the orbital period, but not to the masses of the two objects, is it?

    What have I missed?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile...

      Only to the central mass (assuming much larger), the mass of the satellite doesn't matter

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Meanwhile...

      "The Earth is gaining mass.

      I wonder how much that compensates for the Sun's losing mass?"/

      Good point. I wonder how mass reaches the sun in the same way?

  21. eldakka Silver badge
    Boffin

    Reg, I am disappointed.

    Earth's orbital distance of 1.496x1013 cm is

    Linguine: 1068571428571.4286

    Double-decker bus: 16227356546.2632

    Brontosaurus: 6806187443.1301

    And we are receding at 0.1071 Linguine per year.

  22. RobertLongshaft

    [liberal media]This is what happens when America elects a racist misogynist leader and the racists of Britain vote for Brexit.

    I hope you're happy with yourselves![/liberalmedia]

  23. ecofeco Silver badge

    Skating away

    Skating away

    Skating away, on the thin ice

    Of a new day

  24. Lars Silver badge
    Joke

    Expecting

    A tweet from, guess who, about it soon. Could it be Him or is it all about him.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Expecting

      Biggest solar orbit EVER for Earth in my Administration! Whiny liberals said it couldn't be done! Make Earth Great Again!

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Dear sir,

    AIEEEEE!

    Sincerely,

    Stevie

  26. red03golf

    I don't see where they've considered the Sun's increase in mass due to asteroids, comets, and other matter (dust, et al) falling into the sun. Also, I don't see anything in the paper detailing the Earth's increase in mass and resultant increase in gravitational force due to the mass increase.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "So, yeah, we told you not to panic."

    Haha, I was just about to say, but you beat me to the punchline :o)

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nice use of units, subtle..

    ..but you missed out on a perfect score by accidentally using cm twice. This is better as it's perfectly imperfect, and still almost impossible to make a meaningful comparison between any of the numbers. A nice break from the usual Register silliy units, while still being just as impenetrable. Nice mixing of the Imperial and Metric systems.

  29. Mips

    Lunartics

    But we already knew the same is happening to the moon (about 10mm per year) and we have a lot less time to think about it. We will loose the moon a long time before we drift away from the sun.

  30. iLurker

    Just as well I'd say, what with global warming thanks to us humans.

  31. Chris 239

    Hmm only third comment before a suggestion it will counteract global warming! Yea!

    At least that was in jest.

    Did any deniers really claim any AGW really would be counteracted by this? I wouldn't put it past them.... I haven't time to read all the comments on this.

    1. iwrconsultancy

      " The Sun loses about 4 million tonnes a second from fusion "

      Clearly this is unsustainable. We need to replace it with renewable energy.

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