Space Weather, Magnetic Hurricanes

The Sun, as many people know, is not a constant, unchanging entity, but rather a ephemeral, ever-changing, violent, and variable nuclear furnace, burning about 600 million tons of hydrogen per second to create light, heat, and helium (with a little bit of lithium and beryllium thrown in for flavor). This process has been happening 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for nearly 5 billion years, and its ebbs and flows cast off huge quantities of energy and magnetism in the form of solar flares on a pretty regular basis, with occasionally greater or lesser degrees of magnitude. Sometimes the flares are so great they can destroy satellites and disrupt or even disable electronic equipment on the planet earth itself. Scientists postulate this phenomena is caused by a compression of the Earth’s magnetosphere, which forces huge amounts of energy very close to the planet’s surface, resulting in electronic overload. As humanity covers its home with wires and antennae, natural conduits for electricity and magnetism, the propensity for catastrophe increases with every inch of conductivity.

It has been long known that the natural cycle of solar flares will peak sometime around 2012 or 2013, and recent warnings from NASA propose potentially disastrous consequences for the industrialized world, including widespread electrical and communications blackouts that could completely disable health and utilities infrastructure. I think it might be getting about time to restock the bomb shelter.

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