A much hyped-up solar storm finally hit earth on Thursday, bringing with it a wave of electro-magnetic energy, radiation and subatomic particles which effected absolutely nobody. The storm came and went without a single satellite flickering or power fluctuation anywhere on the planet. And scientists at NASA seemed surprised by lack of calamity.
The sun cycles through solar storms about once every eleven years, but up until recently the atmosphere and earth’s magnetic field prevented them from being much of a problem. What changes that now is how much our lives depend on the satellites in earth’s orbit, and on electrically powered technology in general. An electro-magnetic pulse from the sun could potentially knock out computers and instruments, and wreak havoc with communication and gps tracking systems.
It seems like scientists are still unsure as to why this solar storm did not cause nearly the damage that it was predicted to, but that does not stop them from looking to the horizon. Next year brings with it the climax of the current solar storm, and another wave of radiation and subatomic particles that make the last one pale in comparison. But just how much of this is nothing but hype? The last big solar storm, back in 1986 knocked out a power grid in Quebec causing about 6 million Canadians to temporarily lose power, and a more recent one in 2002 messed with some gps satellites. Apparently this next storm will be the biggest to hit earth since 2006. The storm of 2006, for those of you who don’t remember, messed with the instruments in a spacecraft orbiting the planet, shut down an arial mapping satellite and disrupted short-wave radio communication in parts of China. Can the human race really survive another calamity like that?