Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Have A Coronal On Me!

Global warming? Bah. Meet solar warming:

Astroboffins are warning that a mighty "eruption" of superhot plasma has been blasted out of the Sun directly at the Earth. The plasma cloud is expected to reach Earth beginning tomorrow, possibly causing strange phenomena - including a mighty geomagnetic storm which could see the Northern Lights aurorae extend as far south as Blighty or the northern USA.

As you may or may not know, the typical solar cycle lasts about eleven years, intense activity followed by a similar period of calm. Well, the calm period extended a little, and now the buildup is about to hit us, in less than 24 hours, a coronal mass ejection has been spotted heading directly towards the earth.

It could mean as little damage as a few power lines disrupted and a lovely display of the Northern Lights. It could, and I stress this is a small possibility, mean a complete electromagnetic failure planetwide. This last is not very likely but not impossible.

On the other hand, the activity in 2013...well, that will likely create all sorts of havoc, and may cause the electromagnetic failure scientists have all but determined is inevitable, starting with cell phone outages worldwide and cascading into complete power failure on any electric grid, including solar and wind driven local grids.

To give you an idea, a solar maximum (as they're referred to) in 1921 knocked out the fledging New York City subway system. That's, um, the underground railway, you'll note.

Your best defense? Preparation, of course. Batteries. Lots of batteries. Capacitors, any type of electical storage that you can insulate from the grid will be safe unless it is directly attacked by the solar storms that will occur (remember, the night side of the planet will be relatively secure).

Consider Thursday a test run.