Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Solar Flare

The sun let out a couple of solar flares yesterday.  They are supposed to reach our lovely planet tomorrow. I'm teaching a class tomorrow so I had to leave this evening and drive for three hours.  I was able to listen to a show from the LA area.  They were talking about the solar flare.  The show after the one I was listening to was going to spend much of its time discussing the possibilities of mass destruction of the electrical system.  They made sure to emphasize that the solar flare will not harm humans.  People won't feel a thing.  If it hits hard then electricity will be affected.  It could be a sun caused EMP. 

There is a potential for widespread problems. Now NASA says there shouldn't be a problem.  They also don't know yet exactly where these solar particles will hit.  Solar storms can disrupt technology on Earth three different ways: magnetic, radio, and radiation emissions. Magnetic effects have the potential to mess up the electrical power grids. Most of our grid system is not hardened.  GPS can be messed up and not at all accurate.  Don't rely on your GPS during this time.  Back yourself up with a real paper map.  You do remember them, don't you?  The storm can also affect radio communication. This can cause difficulties with airline communication.  On the other hand, if it is really bad, planes can just fall out of the sky because their electrical systems can shut down.  Of course that's the worst of the worst. 

Thinking about some of the items affected by EMP while reading the book One Second After everything that could go wrong did.  The electrical system went down.  Vehicles no longer worked.  Phones didn't work. Water couldn't be pumped and sewage systems failed.  Stores had to close because they couldn't use their registers.  And then there was looting. 

Will anything happen?  I guess we will know tomorrow.  It will be interesting to read on Thursday and Friday if there were any rushes on the stores from people trying to prepare at the last minute.  I didn't need to do too much to prepare.  I took my external hard drive and put it and a few other "electrical" type of items into hardened cases. 

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