Nasty Solar Storms on Horizon. Threatens Communications on Earth.

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by Prof., Jun 10, 2010.

  1. macrumors 601


    Aug 17, 2007
    I'll be so pissed if my Mac gets fried. :eek:

    Yahoo News Link
  2. macrumors Core


    Mar 17, 2005
    London, England
    On the upside, much more Aurora activity! :)
  3. macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location
    Worse? Communication between humans is already pretty bad.
  4. macrumors 68020


    Mar 29, 2009
    A man of the people. The right sort of people.
  5. macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    it can get pretty bad. Worse case is if a big flare hits with the right polarity it can knock out our most of our world wide power grid for months because it will blow up our huge transformers. The power spike from them would make the huge ones go boom. The way to protect those things from being damage is to shut them down during the hit.
  6. macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    Interesting, since the prediction is that this current supspot cycle is going to be at nearly 50% the amplitude of the previous one. So if we didn't get everything in the world fried from 1998-2002, we 'ain't' going to see that happen from 2012-2016. :rolleyes:

  7. macrumors 6502a

    Feb 2, 2010
    Y2K all over again :rolleyes:
  8. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    There are about 10x more things to get fried now than there was then. And, so much more of what we have have been miniaturized, and so less robust to power surges. Those old time electronics were often over-engineered. The tendency since then has been to save costs by reducing that robustness.

    But I agree with you, this is likely going to be a non-event. Doom-and-Gloom headlines attract eyeballs.
  9. macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2008
    12 across
    Ooh! I loves me some auroras.
  10. macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    I think this is more of an issue for satellites than our ground-based electronics.
  11. macrumors 68000

    Nov 6, 2009
    And we had plenty of satellites during that past peak. PLUS, I would even hazard a guess that satellites are perhaps better shielded from cosmic effects than they were 10 years ago precisely because of those 1998-2002ish zappings.

    I have no firsthand info on this, but if I were designing a satellite I sure as heck would take into account those huge pulses of solar energy in the recent past when designing my new satellite. I would attempt to make it as isolated as I could from all but the most intense spikes.

    They know this stuff happens occasionally and they try to mitigate the effects.
  12. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    If a big enough solar flare is aimed at the Earth, all those miles and miles of high-voltage power lines that connect cities to power stations act as power antennas, funnelling excess power downstream until the sub-station circuit breakers cut in, throwing the city into darkness.

    A decade or three ago it happened to the power lines that crossing the wilderness of Quebec, from James Bay to the American North East.

    There is little permanent damage, but it does turn off a lot of ground-based electronics. ;)
  13. macrumors 604


    Mar 17, 2004
    I blame Canada.
  14. macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Most people do..... :D
  15. macrumors 68020

    Feb 2, 2007
    Pasadena CA
    The whole 'build a shield' type words in this thread really don't understand the threat to spacecraft.

    It's all a statistics game - you could have a wall of lead a foot thick - and some particularly energetic particles could still get through. The better your sheild, the fewer that get through.


    All it really takes is one particle to hit one microelectronic component and boom - you've got a bit flip, you've got a spacecraft in safe mode, and it stops doing its job.

    It's basically impossible to make better shields ( as that invokes mass, and mass is the killer for getting stuff into space ) - and the electronics are radiation hardened, but only to a certain point.

    The more complex a spacecraft, the more electronics it has, and thus to a certain extent, the more vulnerable it might be to bad space weather.

    Furthermore, satellite technology is more a part of out lives now than previously - in ways you probably wouldn't even imagine.

    What we do have now, however, is more and more spacecraft watching solar weather ( ACE, SOHO, STEREO A and B, SDO, Yohkoh, TRACE, Hinode ) and that means we can see the worst of it, literally, coming at us and thus monitor the spacecraft that have become a part of our lives and be more ready to recover them if possible.

    Net result? We'll know more about this solar maximum than any previous one, we will be better prepared to deal with it, but our reliance on technology vulnerable to it is increasing rapidly.

    Net difference to our daily lives? Almsot certainly zero :)
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 3, 2009
    People....take things too seriously.

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