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Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing?

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the or-maybe-thats-just-a-nice-cup-of-tea dept.

Space 356

pilsner.urquell writes "A newly released NASA report warns that the world has forgotten the power of the sun, creating a technological society susceptible like never before to large infrastructure damage from solar storms. According to the report, the world has grown so dependent on modern technologies without respect of what the sun can and has done, that it's risking major communications, finance, transportation, government and even emergency services disruptions."

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I know the solution (5, Funny)

alexj33 (968322) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417185)

Space Carbon Credits are the answer. Make the check out to me.

Endangered Species Act... (1)

mosel-saar-ruwer (732341) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417235)


Make the check out to me.

Manbearpig has a different idea [youtube.com] .

pilsner.urquell? (1, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417205)

I read that quickly and had a brief fear that zombie roalnd piquepioele was still submitting stories :(

My PENIS is not detachable (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417223)

Is yours?

Re:My PENIS is not detachable (-1, Offtopic)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417377)

Posting this at grave risk to my karma because, well because the song is actually pretty damned cool.

Detachable Penis [youtube.com]

finance (5, Funny)

thhamm (764787) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417241)

"... risking major ... finance, ... disruptions."

who needs the sun for that?

Re:finance (3, Interesting)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417411)

I'm beginning to think that in general, modern society is a Perfect Storm factory.

Too much optimization (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417873)

Too much optimization and too much interdependency do lead to a Perfect Storm factory.

Another fine mess... (1, Insightful)

brouski (827510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417255)

We're all going to DIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!

Re:Another fine mess... (4, Funny)

pitchpipe (708843) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417779)

Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Re:Another fine mess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26418029)

We're all going to DIIIIIIIIEEEEEE!

True. It's just that some people are in denial or entertain some kind of eternal life fantasy so they might get all worked up over a story like this.

Coming from the top space brainboxes... (0, Troll)

mobynewt (1448447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417259)

this must be serious!

We must confirm it at once with our brightest astro boffins!!

Re:Coming from the top space brainboxes... (2, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417343)

Hahah, yeah, somewhere on a distant world there's an alien Heinlein writing a novel about capturing the meatbags' top space brainboxes

On holiday (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418113)

We must confirm it at once with our brightest astro boffins!!

Unfortunately Kodos and Kang were unavailable for comment.

Rather dramatic (5, Insightful)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417265)

"Space Katrina" sounds rather dramatic, but wouldn't the atmosphere lessen the damage? Granted, it's still a valid concern that should be considered, but TFA seems like it's a bit more "doomsday" and a little less "this could happen".

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

Jeoh (1393645) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417307)

Space Katrina? I didn't know we had levies in space.

Re:Rather dramatic (2, Funny)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418055)

At least we'll be able to shoot some politicians into space so that they can show their concern.

Re:Rather dramatic (3, Informative)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417421)

The damage comes about from EM radiation overloading the power grid. The atmosphere isn't going to do much to stop that.

Re:Rather dramatic (4, Informative)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417459)

It wouldn't. The damage isn't from the particle cloud itself, it's from the ripples it sets up in the Earth's magnetosphere. This makes the magnetic field move relative to any conductors (like power lines and circuit traces) in it. That causes an electric current to be induced in the conductor. The atmosphere doesn't affect the magnetic field at all, so it won't provide any protection from the disturbance.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

freddy_dreddy (1321567) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418001)

Is it achievable to harvest this scale of induced current ?

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418199)

Sure but the power station would never make back even a tiny fraction of it's construction costs.
It's like building a power plant to harvest the power of lightening strikes.

Re:Rather dramatic (4, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417509)

Lessen? Yes. Could it still be catastrophic? Yes.

First, every satellite would be "down". That means no GPS. No communication satellites. No weather satellites.

Second, a violent storm can overload the power grid. Which means days without electricity - assuming important components aren't overloaded and destroyed.

Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

So, as long as you don't depend on modern technology, you should be fine.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417791)

Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

No, landline phones have really long wires, so they'd have the same problems as the power grid. Wireless would probably actually be OK until the batteries ran down, I think modern schemes are fairly noise resistant.

Re:Rather dramatic (2, Insightful)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417863)

This would give a good incentive for switching over to fiber optics!

Re:Rather dramatic (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418011)

Third, cell phones, radios and other wireless devices could go down. Your home network will probably be fine. But forget using your 3G phone for anything. Your cordless phone will probably be OK to call emergency services but they won't be able to get them on the radio to tell them where to go.

It won't affect terrestrial radio, only satellite communications. If you can call 911 then they have power, if they have power their radios will work. Cell phones won't work well if at all, you'll likely not have any long distance phone service at all.

It won't bring us back to the stone age, only back to about 1960. It will be an inconvinience, not the end of the world.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418157)

Long distance phone service is almost exclusively fiber optic. There is no reason it would be down.

Re:Rather dramatic (5, Interesting)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417547)

Think the report is kidding around? Go lookup what happened in Quebec on March 13th, 1989. The whole power system was knocked out in seconds. Then go read about the kind of storm they're worried about - the solar storm of 1859.

It actually caused telegraph wires to short out across Europe and the Americas - some even caught on fire. If that happened now, it would cause global power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out.

So will people be directly killed? No. But when the fly-by-wire planes fall out of the sky, your new car won't work, your cell phones are dead, power is dead, the internet is down, and landlines fried - I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417643)

Did I mention cars? Forget that - I was getting over excited there...

Re:Rather dramatic (2, Funny)

MatthewCCNA (1405885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417841)

your cell phones are dead, power is dead, the internet is down, and landlines fried - I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

The survivors will envy the dead.

Re:Rather dramatic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417947)

Power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out??? Obviously they couldn't live without these things and this led to the ultimate demise of the dinosaurs.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417969)

We also have to keep in mind that telegraph wires back then weren't protected like power lines are now. My take is that power systems would go down in most of the world. And then the ones that aren't constructed to 1859 telegraph standards would eventually come back up when the storm ended and broken pieces were fixed.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418079)

We also have to keep in mind that telegraph wires back then weren't protected like power lines are now.

Modern power lines aren't protected at all. They are naked steel cables. Of course that also means that they are unlikely to be damaged unless actually heated red-hot, but the transformers ? Each and every one of them will get the equivalent of a lightning strike simultaneously.

Oh, and of course a solar storm might continue for a while, making the magnetic field go back and forth, so make that multiple lightning strikes - a virtual thunderstorm.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417975)

your new car won't work

Makes me glad I have an old and almost gratuitously non-electronic car. I might switch back to the diesel version I had before - I've driven that with no working electrics of any kind. Probably not a great idea, not having brake lights, but needs must.

Re:Rather dramatic (2, Interesting)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418039)

It actually caused telegraph wires to short out across Europe and the Americas - some even caught on fire. If that happened now, it would cause global power outages, fried computer equipment (including the ones that control your fancy electronic car), and everything except for milsats in orbit could be knocked out.

Power outages, yes.

Fried computers, only if they're plugged in. And even that's questionable, since I'm pretty sure there are surge protectors now that are good enough to protect things from lightning strikes on the power lines.

Things in orbit, might actually include military stuff (unless they use vacuum tubes or something). The problem here isn't the magnetic fields, it's the charged particles. A transistor can only take so many hits from charged particles before it breaks (depends on how big it is),so the questions are "how old are their chips" and "how many particles/cm^2/s might there be".

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418217)

I bet it won't take long for a lot of people to die anyway.

I suppose you replaced "everyone" with "a lot of people" to take into account vampires.

Re:Rather dramatic (1)

Windows_NT (1353809) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418065)

although i didnt RTFA, i would believe they're alluding to the 'storm' damaging satellites. this just makes me think that if the sun is going to attack, we need to retaliate .. Set all phaser from stun, TO KILL! Mr. Spock, beam me down a six pack!

Only thing to do (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417271)

I guess there's only one thing to do - Destroy the sun!

Re:Only thing to do (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417585)

Hmm, I wonder how that could be done..... I mean shooting nukes at the sun is like tossing matches into an erupting volcano, so we will require something new. Oh where is the Sun Crusher when you need one?

Re:Only thing to do (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417789)

I think I know what we could do... Fires need oxygen to breathe right?? So how about we just use a giant space blanket to put out the fire?

Now, where to find the blanket??

Maybe one of these Giant Space Blankets [wikipedia.org]

Re:Only thing to do (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417815)

The link went bad...
For more giant space blanets exhibit A:
Giant Space Blankets [wikipedia.org]

Re:Only thing to do (1)

mapsjanhere (1130359) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417903)

All you need is a 12,000 km diameter sunshade. Preferably made from something light, say aluminum foil. Ups, that's 2 billion tons, maybe something lighter, aluminized mylar at 2 millon tons - we better get that space elevator build fast.

Re:Only thing to do (1)

tadheckaman (578425) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417907)

a few Enchanach Drives would work.

And now for something completely different (5, Funny)

jerep (794296) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417275)

A study funded by NASA has flagged up yet another terrible hazard for those no longer able to get excited about nuclear war, global pandemics, terrorism, climate change, economic meltdown and asteroid strike.

I for one welcome our weekly disaster overlords.

Life on Earth (0)

Black Rabbit (236299) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417287)

With any luck a major space storm will wipe out any and all technology on earth. Maybe this would be the kick in the pants our species needs.

Re:Life on Earth (3, Funny)

DeadPixels (1391907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417309)

Nothing says "you screwed up" like a nice plague!

Re:Life on Earth (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417479)

Screw cyberpunk, we're switching to steampunk!

Re:Life on Earth (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417529)

You could always go Amish.

Re:Life on Earth (1)

timelorde (7880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417931)

Or Druid. Don't know if I've got the room for one of their clocks, though.

Re:Life on Earth (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417685)

With any luck a major space storm will wipe out any and all technology on earth. Maybe this would be the kick in the pants our species needs.

Well, aren't you just a ray of sunshine on this cloudy Monday topic...

Better hope you're not wearing your bluetooth-enabled, wifi-hooked, Pacemaker-3000 by the time your epiphany rings true...

Re:Life on Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417763)

With any luck a major space storm will wipe out any and all misanthropes so we never have to hear such platitudes again.

confirmed (2, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417297)

spacecraftconfirmsit

Cold War & EMP (3, Interesting)

gpronger (1142181) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417321)

At the height of the cold war, this was one of the concerns. As I recall the detonation of a nuclear device in space would cause a massive EMF pulse (Electro-Magnetic force Pulse) that could trash electronics. (Yes, one on the ground is obviously much worse, but this would allow a government to "blind" an enemy without collateral damage.)

It seems that with the end of the cold war, and the fact that an EMP can occur naturally, has been forgotten.

Greg P

Re:Cold War & EMP (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417757)

It's sufficient to just call it an electromagnetic pulse. But, to be pedantic, your choices for terms are "electromagnetic field" and "electromotive force"; the term "EMF" generally refers to the latter.

There's no Canada like French Canada (4, Informative)

i_ate_god (899684) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417329)

Quebec [solarstorms.org] knows what they're talking about.

Re:There's no Canada like French Canada (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417545)

Dude, I live in Québec and I've never had any such prob{#`AX%$G{%5&`+'2h${`%&NO CARRIER

the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (5, Interesting)

converter (1025085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417335)

It really, really bugs me. A lot. I know they are only using it to give the impression of a powerful and disastrous storm. It just seems that likening a coronal mass ejection to a "katrina-like" event is as realistic as likening a tornado to that little swirl in your bathtub drain.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (2, Insightful)

mcatrage (1274730) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417667)

How about them using the term Katrina at all. Just because a bad thing happened to Americans doesn't mean it's the worst natural disaster ever.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (2, Insightful)

MalHavoc (590724) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417761)

No kidding. As bad as Katrina was, it's hard to equate that particular disaster with the Tsunami that occurred on December 26, 2004 during which hundreds of thousands died.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417689)

It just seems that likening a coronal mass ejection to a "katrina-like" event is as realistic as likening a tornado to that little swirl in your bathtub drain.

I know what you mean.

However, this dissimilarity can be resolved by placing a toy trailer and a talking action figure saying "it was like a freight train" near said bathtub drain.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (4, Funny)

Kozz (7764) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417783)

It was the best the author could do, under the circumstances. It was exceedingly difficult to draw comparisons with Libraries of Congress, Volkswagen Beetles or football fields.

...and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417875)

And in other news Katrina like radiation turns converter into Hulk.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (2, Insightful)

dtolman (688781) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417899)

Why is the term inapropriate here? Just like Katrina, the authors are describing a serious, but forseeable weather event, that could be almost completely mitigated with better planning.

Plus Katrina was one of the bigger hurricanes you could expect to see, while the event they describe is one of the bigger CME's you could expect to see... seems like a good analogy all around (except one effects a small area and dunks a small city, and the other the entire world and will destroy civilization as we know it).

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417923)

It works in this case. Aside from being a powerful storm, the affected infrastructure was built knowing previous example that trouble like this was abound (kinda like building a city below sea level in a storm area yeah?), and the government doesn't have an effective plan to deal with the repercussions.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (4, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417933)

I agree. People that use hyperbole are worse than Hitler.

Re:the term "katrina-like" makes me angry... (1)

drerwk (695572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418135)

FTA - "a space Katrina, a storm that we should have been prepared for but were not"
It says nothing about he relative energy.
As it turns out, I am prepared for my bathtub swirl.

Bread (2, Interesting)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417339)

Given that (a) the average journey for food items from production to plate is supposedly over 1000 miles in my country, (b) I live in area with few farms, and (c) Space Katrina is going to knock out transportation and probably the electical grid (I have an electric stove and oven), I have to wonder: Can the smoker I got for Christmas be used to bake bread? And what other essentials should I stock up on?

Re:Bread (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417641)

I think the standard protocol for these sorts of things is to sell everything you own, stockpile as many guns as possible, and move into a cabin somewhere deep in the mountains. Disconnect from all power sources, and discontinue use of any electronic devices. Grow or hunt all your own food, and try to avoid contact with the outside world as much as possible. Also, if you could learn to enjoy drinking your own urine, that would be a big help.

Re:Bread (1)

cabjf (710106) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417687)

Don't forget to build up your gold supply as well. Because once chaos rules, everyone will accept shiny metal for trade, right?

Re:Bread (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417735)

You can stock up on "wait for the national guard".

Military equipment is supposed to be EMP hardened.

They did it for east berlin, they'll do it for us.

Re:Bread (1)

chill (34294) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417901)

They did it for east berlin, they'll do it for us.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Please....stop! You're making my sides hurt!

The "Katrina-like" reference in the summary wasn't to the size of the storm, but rather to the effectiveness of government assistance afterward. If anything is to be learned from Katrina (other than don't build below-sealevel cities on the sea shore) it is no matter what the gov't tells you, you need to be prepared to take care of yourself and possibly some neighbors for at least a couple of days. "Be Prepared".

Re:Bread (1)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418119)

you won't starve in a couple days, nor will you die of thirst.

Most people I know have stuff in their freezer, pantry, or fridge which are perfectly edible/drinkable but which have fallen out of their culinary favor. By the end of the second day they'll reach for that and be fine.

Oh no! Emergency services disruptions? (-1, Offtopic)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417341)

I was going to post something here about just not clicking through to sensationalist articles anymore as a form of protest... But then I remembered that this is Slashdot, and nobody clicks through to the article anyway, so I was wasting words... I'm not even sure why I'm still posting this.

Mr. Faraday reporting (5, Funny)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417347)

Seriously guys, I figured this out ages ago... -Faraday

Re:Mr. Faraday reporting (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417569)

Hey you, how did you get out?! Get back in your cage!!!

Just a thought (-1, Troll)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417395)

People tend to underestimate how much our incredibly wasteful governments cost both in terms of tax money that is taken out of the economy and in terms of compliance with regulations that are probably not needed. If the laws were made more efficient, and taxes were made dramatically lower, like a 10% maximum federal income tax, it would be easier to make more expensive devices that have all sorts of things ranging from extremely eco-friendly designs to being shielded from EMPs because most of the middle and upper classes would have the money to buy them.

What people don't tend to realize is that making eco-friendly products that are resilient against EMPs, solar flares, etc. costs a lot of money. When you combine that cost with the cost of having tax-heavy, low-value governments, people are going to save their money. The best thing that could be done for environmentalism and getting people to spend money on more durable products would be to let them keep more of their money and then nudge manufacturers in this direction since everyone wants eco-friendly, durable, crisis-resilient products.

Re:Just a thought (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417731)

Right. If people had lower taxes, the first thing they'd think of to spend the money on would be EMP-resistant electronics.

They would forgo extra vacations, faster cars, Jacuzzis, expensive Champagne and plastic surgery, so that they could upgrade to a rad-hardened TV set. They would show off their Faraday-enclosed gear at parties to impress their friends.

I'm 100% confident that's what everyone would do, and solar storms would be no longer be a risk to anyone.

Barjavel novel: Ravage (1)

heatseeker_around (1246024) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417435)

Does it sound like Ravage [wikipedia.org] (fr) from Barjavel ? It has been written in 1943 and the story takes place in a future so far from now... 2052. I recommend this novel, not as a prediction model, but as a tremendous sci-fi story.

Parrots a Sci American article a couple years ago? (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417483)

If I remember they said there was a storm in the mid-19th century that interfered with _telegraph_ traffic. Which is to say, think about what it would do to microprocessors.

Re:Parrots a Sci American article a couple years a (1)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418099)

Because home computers create a lot of EMI, they're enclosed in metal boxes. Those same metal boxes help protect them from EMP strikes. The vulnerable components are those connected to the world outside the box: keyboard ports, monitor ports, printer ports, external USB, firewire, SCSI, modem, etc.. The parts likely to blow are those interface components, not the microprocessor, which is protected for a variety of reasons including its price. However, if the interface parts are gone, the computer is useless, so it's not much of a consolation that the micro won't be fried.

The most likely way to kill the micro is a surge on the AC causing a severe overvoltage to the micro.

Telegraph wires were exposed and extended over long distances, so it's no surprise that any sort of electrical storm could interfere with telegraphy. Modern telephone and electrical systems are designed to withstand most lightning strikes, so they stand a fair chance of holding up under a sunstorm. Time will tell.

Katrina (2, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417487)

Is a 'Katrina-Like' Space Storm Brewing?

Man, New Orleans can't catch a freaking break!

...reports NASA scientist Chicken Little... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417499)

... well, I guess who better to let us know that the sky is falling than NASA?

Forget finance, transportation, etc. disruptions.. (1)

jeffshoaf (611794) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417589)

What about my digital satellite TV? Hey, if I'm stuck at home w/o the internet access, I'll need something to keep my mind occupied while I starve to death and fend off the ravaging hordes!

Arthur C Clarke anyone? (4, Interesting)

thebheffect (1409105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417629)

At least he didn't forget. One of the events he mentioned in his writings was the massive corruption of magnetically stored data. I believe it was his 2001 series (2001, 2010, etc...) where he mentioned a devastating solar storm that wiped out a vast majority of Earth's digital records.

Re:Arthur C Clarke anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417913)

This is probably a dumb question, but are optical media like CDs and DVDs safe? Yes, I know they aren't magnetic, but microwaves, for example, can do them in.

I hope it happens. (3, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417655)

Private and semi-private energy companies, like all lnstitutions promoted by competition to cut costs, suffer the malady of products and infrastructure "built by the lowest bidder".

Because of the nature of pure capitalism and even mixed economies, it is against the interests of any individual actor to create a more robust electronic infrastructure.

This is a role for the dreaded "R" word..ok i'll say it.. RRRegulation.

This is why i hope a solar storm like the one this article fear-mongers about happens.

When it does, various electronic infrastructure companies (power, telecom, etc) will happily welcome a law which sets a minimum level of EMP hardening and other standards.

It's important to note that, despite raising their costs a bit, it won't matter to them so long as their competition suffers the same way.

The cost will likely be passed on to the consumer, but "main street" will also be happy to pay an extra 3 bucks on a few bills knowing region-wide blackouts of power, phone, and internet will no longer be common, especially with a catastrophic failure fresh in their minds.

Kanye West says: (4, Funny)

G-Man (79561) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417657)

"George Bush doesn't care about BlackBerries."

Re:Kanye West says: (3, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418097)

Kanye West was wrong. George Bush cares about Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Condoleesa Rice, Barack Obama, and their ilk. It's poor people George Bush don't like, and their skin color is unimportant.

Racism is a tool of the rich, meant to take your eye of the real problem, classism, and meant to keep poor and middle class whites and blacks at each others' throats so they won't see the REAL enemy, the rich bastards who are keeping the poor and middle class of all races down.

Bernie Madoff stole fifty billion dollars and got out on ten million bail, if I get caught stealing fifty thousand dollars will I get out on ten dollars bail? And why am I the only one asking that question?

My bogus hypothesis (2, Interesting)

Thelasko (1196535) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417679)

The world has become so covered by interconnecting copper wire, it has become a massive Faraday cage [wikipedia.org] and is impervious to such threat.

Communication? (1)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417749)

Would communication still be so vulnerable? Most of the long distance shit uses fiberoptics, and a lot of the short distance stuff is underground... Your ADSL is obviously not going to do you much good if you have no power on the modem, but the backbone ought to cope reasonably...

Re:Communication? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26418127)

Would communication still be so vulnerable? Most of the long distance shit uses fiberoptics

Long-distance fiberoptics won't do you any good at all without repeaters every 100 km or so. Those repeaters need power, and this power is transmitted inside the (very long, in this case) fiberoptics cable, which makes it susceptible to magnetic storms. On the other hand:

and a lot of the short distance stuff is underground...

Most of the long-distance stuff is underground (or rather: underwater) as well.

Forgot? (1)

SeNtM (965176) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417767)

I often attribute unexplained disk failures and network outages to solar activity, even if none existed at the time. On Earth we are somewhat protected by the earths magnetosphere...but why worry about things that we have no control over. If a large flare or increased solar activity were to wipe out satellites or a large scale EMF was to destroy all electronics on Earth, what could we really do? Turn off the power grids for the entire planet...not going to happen. Someone please tag this as FUD, it is an obvious attempt to generate funding for events that we know will eventual happen and that we will have no control over.

Our storm. (1)

mauldus (661873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417833)

And when it arrives, it will shake the universe!

The sun wants.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26417847)

BLOOD! More human sacrifices or the big ball of gas burns 6000 baby seals.

Answer the summary (2, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417851)

In answer to the ridiculous summary:

No, a "Katrina-like" space storm is not brewing, because for a storm to remotely resemble an Atlantic Hurricane, it would need to occur inside of a frikkin' atmosphere.

Bad journalism should be painful to the perpetrator.

Re:Answer the summary (0)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418063)

Analogy 101.

Katrina was an expected to occur natural event which was not prepared for appropriately. This is an expected to occur natural event which has not been prepared for appropriately.

If you try reading the article this is more obvious, since they are contrasting it with a "space Pearl Harbour".

I realise this is hard for you, but just to short-circuit the confusion when they say "space Pearl Harbour" they don't mean Japanese planes attacking Hawaii in space (because yes Hawaii isn't in space, and yes WW2 planes can't fly in space) they mean a surprise military attack.

Obligatory Airplane II quote (1)

cloudwilliam (517411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417927)

A newly released NASA report warns that the world has forgotten the power of the sun....

Simon: My God, the sun!

Elaine: The sun? Simon, what is it?

Simon: A large, fiery ball at the center of our solar system.

NASA Wants Bailout Funds... (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 5 years ago | (#26417999)

to save itself from being replaced by Obama's proposed NASA-military merge. This is fear-mongering to keep their bureaucratic pants pockets full.

Never under estimate the power of a gun (2, Funny)

east coast (590680) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418023)

According the report, the world has grown so dependent on modern technologies without respect of what the sun can and has done, that it's risking major communications, finance, transportation, government and even emergency services disruptions

That's why I keep a loaded AK by my home servers and my passport is right beside my 45.

katrina like 911 tsunami (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26418053)

my katrina like breakfast had me in the can most of the morning so far. That or the katrina like sex i had last night.

I can imagine the uproar... (3, Funny)

mindwanderer (1169521) | more than 5 years ago | (#26418107)

...in the World of Warcraft forums when this happens. I predict threats of cancellation for inadequate solar-storm protection and demands for a punch-card character-backup system.
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