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NASA Space Science

NASA Warns of Potential "Huge Space Storm" In 2013 464

Posted by kdawson
from the after-twenty-twelve-who-cares dept.
Low Ranked Craig writes "Senior space agency scientists believe the Earth will be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from solar flares after the Sun wakes 'from a deep slumber' sometime around 2013. In a new warning, NASA said the super storm could hit like 'a bolt of lightning' and could cause catastrophic consequences for the world's health, emergency services, and national security — unless precautions are taken. Scientists believe damage could extend to everyday items such as home computers, iPods, and sat navs. 'We know it is coming but we don't know how bad it is going to be,' said Dr. Richard Fisher, the director of NASA's Heliophysics division. 'I believe we're on the threshold of a new era in which space weather can be as influential in our daily lives as ordinary terrestrial weather.' Fisher concludes. 'We take this very seriously indeed.'"
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NASA Warns of Potential "Huge Space Storm" In 2013

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  • hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by davidmcg (796487) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:24AM (#32576496) Homepage
    Doesn't worry me seeing as we won't survive 2012 anyway.
  • Re:Invest in FRDY! (Score:4, Informative)

    by daid303 (843777) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:29AM (#32576546)

    Flash disks are non-magnetic. But if you want something that survives better then I suggest something like engravings on stone tablets.

  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:46AM (#32576690) Journal

    Does it seem to anyone else that the telegraph routinely confuses "Something up to size X could hypothetically happen some day" with "X IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN!!!!"?

    I'm not saying this is a bad topic to have a conversation about (in fact it's one of my favorite disaster scenarios to rant about), it's just that if slashdot is going to reference the telegraph, it should frame it as though a new Hollywood disaster movie has been released, not as though it was an actual news item was printed.

  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Informative)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:01AM (#32576830)

    So would something like an EMP destroy pace makers

    Pacemakers are installed inside a poorly constructed Faraday cage. That being your highly conductive body. Pacemakers historically have occasionally gotten all wound up in high RF fields, but aside from folks working at high power UHF TV station transmitters it has not been a serious issue.

    You can "short out" and essentially blow the fuses of a pacemaker. Of course it takes more than enough power to hopelessly electrocute someone, in fact depending on the design you pretty much need to cook them like one of those electric hot dog cookers.

    Its pretty much the usual useless scaremongering B.S.

    would something like this essentially kill anyone with an artificial/bionic enhancement that controls life support?

    Could something worse than we have ever experienced, result in deaths? Just speaking generally, not about any specific threat, and taking a wild guess, I'd say that's a good solid maybe, unless my salary depending on raising money by saying yes, in which case I'd say yes.

  • Re:EOTW? (Score:3, Informative)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:07AM (#32576916) Journal
    Working on the assumption that, in the contemporary west, "generation" means ~25 years, there have been pretty enormous changes in that time. In '85, a 386 fabbed on a 1.5 micrometer process was seriously exciting stuff. In 1960, the transistor was only 13 years old, and seriously retro(but electromagnetically robust) stuff like magnetic core memory was still standard. There were plenty of electric gadgets, though.
  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Informative)

    by FTWinston (1332785) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:33AM (#32577254) Homepage
    Dood, when decepticons get at a working power grid, it quickly stops being a working power grid.
  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Informative)

    by sortius_nod (1080919) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:52AM (#32577522) Homepage

    I seem to recall that the 1859 solar storm caused the telegraph (the service not the trashy paper) network to run without batteries for some time after it.

    Who knows, maybe this will trigger new science for harnessing solar flares/space storms.

  • Re:Scary (Score:4, Informative)

    by FTWinston (1332785) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:55AM (#32577574) Homepage
    It also caught fire.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @10:51AM (#32578354) Homepage

    Ugh, ignore the fucking Telegraph article, it's a piece of shit.

    The NASA article makes no claim that this solar maximum will be any worse than previous ones. Their point is that, due to the deep penetration of technology in our lives, our society is more sensitive than ever to peak solar activity, and so solar weather forecasting is now more important than ever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @11:07AM (#32578604)

    Good, my 1968 muscle car will still work. And since everyone else's cars will be dead, there'll be plenty of cheap gas and I won't care that it only gets 9MPG.

    That and you'll get more 'muscle' by pumping the gas out of the station's underground tank by hand. Bring cash.

    Pumping by hand is not such a big deal. In 1972 my family took a driving vacation to Victoria Falls in (then) Rhodesia. The petrol station between Bulawayo and the falls had no electricity. In an otherwise state of the art (for the time) gas station the pumps were powered by a hand crank. It wasn't hard work, nor was it any slower than the pumps powered by electricity back in civilization.

    Cash? You think if a solar EMP wipes out tech that anyone will care about green bits of paper?

  • Re:Around 2013 (Score:4, Informative)

    by vtcodger (957785) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @01:12PM (#32580522)

    More likely a result of bad journalism than bad science, but I suppose it could be both.

    Anyway, here's the link to spaceweather.com for anyone who wants to learn a little about the sun, sunspots, etc. http://www.spaceweather.com/ [spaceweather.com]

    Here's a link to the latest from NASA published about two weeks ago. Their take on sunspot cycle 24 as best I can translate it? They haven't a clue and won't for several years -- after they have a decent sampling of cycle 24 sunspots to work with. Right now the cycle is late to start and may be fairly weak ... or not. http://solarscience.msfc.nasa.gov/predict.shtml [nasa.gov]

  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Informative)

    by imakemusic (1164993) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @02:10PM (#32581334)

    Weapons of Mass Destruction by Hive? Here you go. [youtube.com]

  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bakkster (1529253) <Bakkster@man.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:36AM (#32589410)

    I appologize, I misremembered the values, and finally found the article [wired.com] again.

    There are 5,000 transformers that need the resistors, and they would cost about $40k each. In the grand scheme of things, pretty cheap.

  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bakkster (1529253) <Bakkster@man.gmail@com> on Wednesday June 16, 2010 @08:45AM (#32589470)

    Nope (I'm an EE), I really do mean dishwasher-sized ohmic resistor.

    The power transmission is three-phase power. So, at the common terminal of the transformer on each end of a long transmission line there should be zero net current. Under all normal circumstances there is.

    In the event of a solar storm, there is a DC current flowing through the wire, which usually isn't present. This resistor would go between the common terminal and earth ground, and both reduce the current present in the line and dissipate the power. See this picture [wired.com].

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