Why is the Sky Blue?

Why Oh Why is the Sky So Blue?

by Steve Horstmeyer, Meteorologist, Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

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The stars look very cold about the sky,
And I have many miles on foot to fare.
Keats, Keen, Fitful Gusts Are Whispering Here and There [1817]

 

Screaming the night away
With his great wing feathers
Swooping the darkness up;
I hear the Eagle bird
Pulling the blanket back
Off from the eastern sky.
Iroquois Invitation Song

Give me a blue sky over my head,
and the green turf beneath my feet,
a winding road before me,
and a three hours' march to dinner...
William Hazlitt, On Going a Journey, Table Talk, 1821-22

Where did you get those eyes so blue?
Out of the sky as I came through.
George MacDonald


Thought Experiments....A Way to Discover Scientific Evidence!

The Concept

One of my personal heros, Albert Einstein (sorry, professional athletes cannot even begin to compare to this guy), used thought experiments to distill complicated topics into their very essence....the fundamental principles...the basics, stripped of the complicated math and side issues. You see his true genius not only extended the limits of human knowledge but was able to explain his ideas to the rest of us...sub-geniuses. Einstein understood that being able to write equations that describe the physical world IS NOT the same as understanding. Quantification follows from a basic knowledge of a physcal phenomenon...a framework....a frame of reference...a point-of-view...and is a necessary next step.

Understanding allows one to apply the language of mathematics and formalize the treatment of complex scientific issues. It is my feeling that higher education has, in many respects, failed because there must first be a conceptual basis, rooted in the laws governing the physical world, before formalizing an issue.

Enough of the sermon....a treatment of sky color is quite complex, but using Einstein's technique of "thought experiments" we can develop a conceptual framework and unravel this fascinating subject.

Step 1: When is the Sky NOT Blue?


There are many ways to discover evidence...sometimes it is best too look at the situation backwards. SOOOO....

WHEN IS THE SKY NOT BLUE?

Think Now! What does each point above tell you is needed to see a blue sky?

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2008 Steven L. Horstmeyer, all rights reserved

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