Solar Storms

A fun bit of news from Fox (not Mulder):

The Sun’s surface erupted early Sunday morning, shooting a wall of ionized atoms directly at Earth, scientists say. It is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show — and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well. . . .
The solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, was spotted by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which captures high-definition views of the sun at a variety of wavelengths. SDO was launched in February and peers deep into the layers of the sun, investigating the mysteries of its inner workings. . . .

NASA scientists warned recently that high-energy electric pulses from the sun could cripple our electrical grid for years, causing billions in damages. In fact, the House is so concerned that the Energy and Commerce committee voted unanimously to approve a bill allocating $100 million to protect the energy grid from this rare but potentially devastating occurrence.

In 1859, we were hit by a massive coronal mass ejection in what became known as the Carrington Event. The surge of electromagnetic energy was so powerful that it actually set telegraph lines and stations–the only technology of the time vulnerable to such a surge–on fire. We also prodced the effect accidentally in the Starfish Prime nuclear test. While this mass is nowhere near as strong and mostly threatens our satellite network, the vulnerability of our electronics to electromagnetic surges, whether from a coronal mass ejection or a nuke detonated high in the atmosphere, has been known and discussed for some time. It, frankly, is America’s Achilles Heel.

Imagine sitting in your cubicle or at your desk one afternoon and suddenly the power goes out. You don’t think too much of it at first, but then you notice that the magical purple smoke is escaping your computer . . . or that your computer is actually on fire. You go outside, and every single car made in the last twenty years is dead. Planes may or may not be falling from the sky, depending on the strength of the event and the shielding of the individual plane. No one has any way of making any transactions, the water distribution plants are down, we can’t move food from storage to stores . . . And it would take literally years to rebuild.

Not a pretty thought, is it?

It’s heartening that Congress is for once not letting partisanship get in the way of protecting our interests–you know, as opposed to “protecting” us from the fake threats of manmade global warming and Kindle–but frankly this should have been done decades ago.



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