Exploring Space: Solar Storms

From National Geographic: Exploring Space

I knew there were solar storms, and they come up every once and a while in the news, but I’ve always just taken it as kind of a fluff piece, like, hey, there’s a solar storm. Your radio might get some static. But I never knew that it could spell the end of the world.

Apparently back in 1859 there was a huge solar storm that made the Aurora Borealis visible as far as the equator. It made the electronics of the day go haywire. (And I want to know what were these electronics? Did they even have radios then? When was electricity even invented?…I Googled it: we didn’t even have commercial power stations until 1879 & Edison)

So if we had some kind of solar storm like that today, it would be a total disaster, bigger than any hurricane or earthquake. Satellites would drop from the sky and our electronic infrastructure would be decimated–like trillions of dollars of damage. No one could use cell phones, GPS, or anything electric really. It reminds me of the show, Revolution, starting tonight on NBC. I don’t know much about the show except that the electricity goes away for good and it’s about what happens next. I wasn’t going to watch it because I’m sick of reading about and seeing stories of post-apocalypse/distopian societies, and I also don’t understand why the characters are running around with swords and crossbows when guns have been around for centuries and don’t run on electricity. I don’t think this show has anything to do with solar flares, but now I might just watch the first episode after all to see what it’s like.

By the way, NG says that solar flare activity follows an 11-year cycle and is expected to peak in 2013, so don’t say I didn’t warn you.


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