4 thoughts on “Stormy weather is portable

    • Makes me think of the Great Solar Storm of 1859 that occurred when a coronal mass ejection from the sun crossed paths with Earth. Here’s Wikipedia’s description:

      “On September 1–2, 1859, one of the largest recorded geomagnetic storms (as recorded by ground-based magnetometers) occurred. Auroras were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains in the U.S. were so bright that the glow woke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People in the northeastern United States could read a newspaper by the aurora’s light. The aurora was visible from the poles to the low latitude area, such as south-central Mexico, Queensland, Cuba, Hawaii, southern Japan and China, and even at lower latitudes very close to the equator, such as in Colombia. …
      Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph operators could continue to send and receive messages despite having disconnected their power supplies.”

      Some folks — maybe they’re alarmists, maybe they’re not — warn that if a similar coronal mass plowed into our planet today, the grid would be knocked offline for days, possibly weeks, and most of society would be temporarily thrown back into the 17th century.


      • Oh man. Solar flares are awesome. Ever since their cyclical peak in the early 2000’s, I’ve been checking the solar flare readings every day at: http://services.swpc.noaa.gov/images/ace-mag-swepam-7-day.gif (the yellow graph). When it reaches about 700, that’s pretty high. Here’s a blog post from 2002: https://www.spudart.org/blog/solar-flares-are-attacking-computer/

        Just last week, Radiolab had a great episode about cosmic rays causing automobile’s on-board computers to stop using the brakes. It was an issue the auto industry completely denied from 2003-2008. (I think have those years right). It wasn’t until some auto inspector had this happen to him that the auto industry finally admitted what was happening. https://www.wnycstudios.org/story/bit-flip


      • When I was in high school I made drawings of sunspots view through my telescope (either projected onto a special screen or viewed directly through a safe filter) for six months, then animated the drawings. It’s amazing how quickly the sun rotates and how quickly the spots change. It’s also cool to know that the spots aren’t necessarily dark, but just less nbright than the rest of the sun.


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