Friday, June 28, 2013
Solar Flare could quickly send us back to the 19th Century
So this week the news is consumed with the Supreme Court, the immigration bill, Edward Snowden and the NSA scandals, and the IRS scandal and the lingering Benghazi scandal. But behind the scenes there are things going on that may be much more important. Earth-shakingly important, even.
No, I'm not talking about the threat from asteroid strikes. This time, though, I'm talking about a different kind of civilizational threat: A solar flare that could wipe out the communications and electrical grids while frying a wide variety of electronics, quickly sending us back to the 19th Century.
That's happened before. In fact, it happened in the 19th Century, with the "Carrington Event" of 1859. A massive solar flare sent a cloud of charged particles that struck the Earth squarely, creating massive currents in the Earth's magnetic field and sending brilliant auroras south as far as Cuba and Hawaii. About the only thing electrical back then was the telegraph network, and the Carrington event had a literally shocking impact -- causing some operators to be shocked, and inducing strong enough currents in the telegraph wires that operators could disconnect the batteries and operate the telegraph off of the flare-induced electrical flow. Read more >>