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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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  • Re:Scary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ThinkWeak (958195) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:20AM (#32576476)
    So would something like an EMP destroy pace makers, artificial hearts, etc.? I know the typical discussion is in regards to someone not being able to listen to their Jason Mraz album on their iPod, but would something like this essentially kill anyone with an artificial/bionic enhancement that controls life support?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:21AM (#32576484)

    If they had said it was coming in 2012 it would have generated way more publicity!

  • TFA. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bbqsrc (1441981) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:26AM (#32576520) Homepage
    If you RTFA, it's not a world ending event. It's just gonna mess up some transformers if they don't turn them off in time.
  • sure, sure. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Banichi (1255242) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:28AM (#32576544)

    You can't plot the weather here on Earth more than 3 days from now accurately, but you expect us to believe you can plot the sun's weather 2 years from now?

    I call BS.

  • by dragisha (788) <dragisha@nOsPAM.m3w.org> on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:29AM (#32576548)

    With influenza pandemy, Maya's calendar doomsday, $|€ crisis, oil spills, earthquakes...

    Or NASa just saw the light and how public fear can me made into profit, using for example big pharma recipes...?

    Whatever, only reasonable thing to do about it is to cool down and ignore as much as we can.

  • Re:sure, sure. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:32AM (#32576578)

    Are you an astrophysicist?

    I'm going to assume you aren't. If so, wtf makes you think anyone is going to take your BS accusation seriously?

    I call BS on your BS.

  • Re:sure, sure. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nadaou (535365) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:40AM (#32576638) Homepage

    ... two mods who think this post is insightful, and two posts showing it is wrong, and still no one has figured out that this is a joke making fun of the global warming deniers ... sigh, yup, which ever of these groups you side with the answer is the same: no one gets it and at this point we're pretty much screwed.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:43AM (#32576674) Homepage Journal

    I'd hate to see what would happen if all our energy usage was electric instead of burning stuff.

    It doesn't matter, we have electronic controls everywhere. If there's an EMP-level event from the Sun, any cars made since about 1970 will be rendered inoperable.

  • Re:sure, sure. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by masterfpt (1435165) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:51AM (#32576732) Journal

    It is common knowledge the sun has seasons, like the hearth. But they take 11 years to cycle.

    With statistical analysis and observations, it is very well possible to make an educated guess...

  • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:51AM (#32576738)

    I have http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mechanical_fuel_injection [wikipedia.org], you insensitive clod!

  • Re:Around 2013 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @08:54AM (#32576760) Journal
    Protip: If TFA is found on the "telegraph.co.uk" domain, it almost certainly represents the state of knowledge of someone who majored in "journalism", after surviving an editor, rather than the state of knowledge of the actual scientists involved with the question...
  • Re:Invest in FRDY! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:06AM (#32576906)

    Also, my computer is pretty much a large steel cage, with the magnetic platters encased in another thick layer of metal, how vulnerable would a regular tower be?

    Simultaneously plugged into a multi-thousand mile grid of copper electrical power wiring and miles of aluminum hardline for the cablemodem, not so good.

    Unplugged in a box, excellent chance of survival.

    Also, electrical fields have no direct effect on magnetic material, you can completely vaporize the electronic of a computer in a lightning strike and a cleanroom service can install new circuit boards and recover most/all of the data off the drive. Now, heat the platters above the curie temperature, like in a fire, and you're screwed.

  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:17AM (#32577060)

    It doesn't matter, we have electronic controls everywhere. If there's an EMP-level event from the Sun, any cars made since about 1970 will be rendered inoperable.

    Why? The electronics are buried in fully enclosed little steel boxes, installed in big car sized fully enclosed steel boxes, with short wires designed not just to survive electrical sparks, but to control those electrical sparks. And none of the electrical wires are longer than a couple meters at most, and none of them connect outside the vehicle (the occasional winter time engine block heater excepted). The only things tougher than automotive electronics are diesel electric locomotive electronics and military electronics.

    I suppose you're referring to the way high power broadcast transmitter antennas, military search radars, and airport radars are always surrounded by dead cars with blown computers. Oh wait, that never happens.

    Also, what was added to cars in 1970? Tailfins? My old '87 plymouth horizon would "run" without its ECU computer, of course it would never take the computerized choke off and the engine timing advance would not "advance" so performance was remarkably poor, but for a young kid, it got me around. That was manufactured about 17 years after your arbitrary cutoff date.

  • Re:Scary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FTWinston (1332785) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:19AM (#32577080) Homepage
    Big transformers in the power grids will be the main victims. And all of us that rely on having a power grid, of course.
    As long as you keep a spare car battery to recharge any bionics that require that, and provided that the outage doesn't last too long, I'd expect something like a pacemaker to be just fine.
    GPS and cars are mentioned because its the satellites themselves that are vulnerable. The "ipods etc" stuff in the telegraph, assuming there's any reasoning behind their inclusion in the article at all, beyond scaring telegraph readers, will be just because they need recharged regularly.

    What the actual NASA article boils down to is: if the satellite and power companies (disconnecting transformers, etc) react fast enough, we'll be fine. Otherwise, better make sure you have an exercise bike and a car battery handy. And, potentially, access to locally grown food. I'd rather not see how the urban supply chain holds up without the power grid.
  • by vlm (69642) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:21AM (#32577102)

    There are hundreds of electrical systems in a car.

    All installed in sealed Faraday cages bolted to the inside of a big car shaped Faraday cage, and designed to work in very close proximity to spark plugs (unless your car is a diesel)

  • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arthur Grumbine (1086397) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:29AM (#32577198) Journal

    Big transformers in the power grids will be the main victims.

    OMG... Won't someone think of the Decepticons!?!

  • Re:sure, sure. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Fess_Longhair (695896) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:34AM (#32577272)

    You can't plot the weather here on Earth more than 3 days from now accurately, but you expect us to believe you can plot the sun's weather 2 years from now?

    I call BS.

    We know arbitrarily far in advance that winter is colder on average than summer. Similarly, we can forecast the timing of solar-cycle peaks pretty well out into the future. I.e, this forecast based on climatology, not an initial value problem (weather; chaotic).

  • Re: sure, sure. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:46AM (#32577444)

    You can't plot the weather here on Earth more than 3 days from now accurately

    But you can easily predict that next summer will be warmer than next winter.

  • Re:sure, sure. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Tuesday June 15, 2010 @09:50AM (#32577502) Homepage

    Physicist here (not an astro-, but good enough for these purposes).

    Solar activity generally occurs in cycles. As far as we know and have observed, these cycles are fairly regular and predictable in a "big-picture" sort of way.

    Although I might not trust the weatherman's forecast for this Friday, I will trust his assertion that it's going to start getting cold around November.

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