Many solar flares are expected to hit Earth in 2012 and 2013 but are those warnings just another Y2K? Back in 1999, people around the world were fearful of just what was going to happen on January 1st, 2000. Most thought the digital clocks would shut down, erasing our bank statements, setting off classified missiles, and creating pandemonium the likes of which we’d never seen. On the morning of January 1st, 2000, the world woke up to discover—nothing. And much like the apocalyptic disappointment on that day, the solar flares set to hit Earth last week barely made a ripple in our magnetic field.
Image Source: NASA
Despite the let-down, experts continue to goad the public, promising more solar flares to come during the sun’s 11-year storm cycle. Not only should we anticipate some communication errors, popular terrestrial radio might be affected.
For those of us who are frequent fliers, NASA has recommended the use of alternative flight paths in areas where the flares are destined to rain down. Last week’s bought disrupted the GRAIL satellites, two devices orbiting the moon, hoping to send back some valuable information on the uninhabitable rock. While the public is largely unaware of it, the fact that airlines such as Delta avoided flying over the North Pole as they are want to do actually saved them from potentially dangerous equipment failures. No one wants to have to see another repeat of Alive, especially if solar flares are preventing proper communication.
The solar flare itself isn’t what’s got people on Earth in a panic. What really concerns scientists are the CMEs that accompany solar flares. CMEs are the energy and matter eruptions that occur with a flare. When a CME hits the Earth’s magnetosphere travelling at 965 kilometers per second, the resulting collision causes our upper atmosphere to wiggle like a bowl full of Jell-O. Believe it or not, CMEs are what cause the aurora borealis.
While this might seem like an innocuous event, any time the aurora borealis are particularly stunning, communication lines in that area of the world are fraught with issues.
Earth has been dealing with solar flares for its entire lifetime, and as noted above, every 11 years we go through this sun cycle. As with every other cyclic event, experts are warning that global chaos may still occur, especially in 2013, provided we make it through the Mayan apocalypse.
2013 is the projected “big year” for the solar storm, and NASA unwisely warned the public that a large solar flare might be capable of paralyzing power grids, the Internet, cell phones, and all other satellite communications for days to months!!
NASA then went on to explain—for everyone to hear—about how a hostile country could be successful at a nuclear attack, not on the planet, but in the upper parts of the atmosphere. Such a detonation would have the same effects as a huge CME hitting the magnetosphere and creating an electromagnetic storm. Communication systems would be knocked out along with most other electronics. Of course, the government feels that a threat of this caliber is far from becoming a reality; we haven’t even located those darn nuclear weapons in the Middle East yet.
Up to you now, do you think and firmly believe that one of those expected solar storms are going to initiate the end of our civilization in the coming 2 years?