Sunday, June 20, 2010
I have previously written about the Carrington Event in 1859 when a very strong solar flare produced currents in telegraph lines enabling them to work when switched off & started fires in some telegraph offices.This is thought to have been the greatest such flare in 500 years. A similar one nowadays would be likely to knock out a high proportion of all systems depending on electricity, from aircraft in flight to the national grid. The extent to which we are more dependent on electricity than in 1859 will be apparent with a moments thought.
That is why this is potentially a very important story. Much moreso than the "Millenium bug" which showed more to rerunning medieval fears than to science & indeed moreso than a genuine 20ft sea level rise, promised by Al Gore & his pals, even if it were to be true.
A ‘once-in-a-generation’ space storm is forecast to stretch from late 2012 into 2013 when the Sun’s 22- year magnetic energy cycle coincides with its 11-year peak in superpowered sun spot activity.The odds must be against another 1/500 year event after all it is only141 years since the last one. On the other that is an average separation & the odds aren't very long against it happening soon.
‘We know it’s coming but we don’t know how bad it’s going to be,’ said Dr Richard Fisher, head of Nasa’s Heliophysics division.
‘Systems will just not work. The flares rapidly change the magnetic field on the earth, like a lightning bolt. That is the solar effect.’ ..
Prof Richard Harrison from the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told Metro: ‘The sun is now waking up. It’s been very inactive but there’s a lot of debate about how dramatic its waking up will be.’
The good news is that most of the damage can be prevented by putting all necessary circuit breakers in place; by duplicating some equipment; & by hardening equipment by completely surrounding it with metal. The bad news is that most of those in government are scientific illiterates who care nothing about anything the public aren't being told about. While "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary" real hobgoblins whose threats can be ended without hysteria are of no interest.
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