Solar Flares and Super Novas
We are entering into one of the 11 year cycles of sun spots. In the old days, we could tell when a sun storm occurred. When it did, our night radio transmission was degraded and even the 50,000 watt stations could no longer well serve their constituents .... buzz, gurgle, whistle, burp.
We are now dependent on another high technology gadget .... the GPS unit that is in our cars and boats.
There was a super sun storm in August of 1859. It was foretold by a giant near equator sized black spot that was viable to the naked eye with welder's glass. We have been left good records about it. A fantastic amount of radiation was released in the form of cosmic rays and the high energy x-rays.
In 1859 it caused a lot of trouble. It degraded telegraphic transmission in North America to a point that messages were unintelligible and this lasted for some time. The Aurora was visible all over and down to Panama. The sky was lit like daylight with its fantastic energy burst.
What would happen, if we got another storm like the 1859 edition? It would effect two things directly:
The first would be the degrading of satellite communication of all types and this could age the solar panels. The rocket engineers know this and they try to design to protect things. Even lesser storms since the satellite age have caused tr They even try to have evasive software techniques to turn away from an impending lash from the sun. The trouble is in the billions of dollars. Since the entire solar arrays can be degraded the 70 billion dollar a year industry of SAT communication would suffer, not to mention the business and entertainment industries that are served by it and not included in that figure.
The second trouble spot would be the transformers that would be fried as a result of the 'fire storm'. The DC current would be altered and trouble would abound. We are used to small episodes when lightning hits a pole in our area. We get a black out. An 1859 like storm could cause a general blackout across any continent.
The bounce of the current flowing into your house would fry some or most of your electronic equipment. The transformers are not built to survive disasters of this type.
Super Nova explosions are rare beasts close enough to us to effect us, but solar storms are very common geologically. How do the scientists know? You can see their effects in the ice core studies of Greenland. There is much study of them due to their supposed effects on Global Warming. Ohio State University is a repository for an extensive amount of this data.
What can we do about them? As individuals, not much. Do you remember the Y2K fiasco? Well that was a gigantic misinterpretation of the facts.
Solar flares are not easy to understand, but the data about them is very good and should be paid attention to by everyone. If you had to have a disaster pack ready for trouble of any cause, the number one on my list would be from solar flares. We would not be injured directly, but the effects would be felt by all.
Isn't it ironic that we think that Lighthouses are no longer needed because of GPS? Don't neglect your compass and take your map along too