×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Underappreciated Risks of Severe Space Weather

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the my-kingdom-for-a-horse dept.

Space 361

circletimessquare notes a New Scientist piece calling attention to a recent study by the National Academy of Sciences, which attempts to raise awareness of the dangers of severe solar electromagnetic storms. "In 1859, amateur astronomer Richard Carrington noticed 'two patches of intensely bright and white light' near some sunspots. At the same time, Victorian era magnetometers went off the charts, stunning auroras were being viewed at the equator, and telegraph networks were disrupted — sparks flew from terminals and ignited telegraph paper on fire. It became known as the Carrington event, and the National Academy of Sciences worries about the impact of another such event today and the lack of awareness among officials. It would induce un-designed-for voltages in all high-voltage, long-distance power lines, and destroy transformers, as Quebec learned in 1989. Without electricity, water would stop flowing from the tap, gasoline would stop being pumped, and health care would cease after the emergency generators gave up the ghost after 72 hours. Replacing all of the transformers would take months, if not years. The paradox would be that underdeveloped countries would fare better than developed ones. Our only warning system is a satellite called the Advanced Composition Explorer, in solar orbit between the Sun and the Earth. It is 11 years old and past its planned lifespan. It might give us as much as 15 minutes of warning, and transformers might be able to be disconnected in time. But currently no country has such a contingency plan."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

361 comments

Don't forget the asteroids. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356191)

Space weather and asteroids. Don't forget the asteroids.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (3, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 5 years ago | (#27356353)

As useless as your post was, that was exactly my thought. We don't spend much time worrying about asteroid impacts, either, even though those have a greater potential for harm. There's just not enough that we can do about it.

Same thing goes for local supernovae or gamma ray bursts. We could also be living in a false vacuum. At any moment all life on Earth could be wiped out entirely; If broken transformers are all we have to worry about from solar flares, I for one am not going to lose much sleep over it.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (3, Insightful)

kalirion (728907) | about 5 years ago | (#27356559)

Except that an event that happened 150 years ago seems more likely to occur again in the near future than an event which happened 65 million years ago, or an event that hasn't happened since the formation of our solar system.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356897)

Asteroid impacts happen quite frequently, actually. Most of them are small. We have quite a bit of data on the frequency of large-scale asteroid impacts, and they have contributed several times to mass extinctions.

We have one (1) data point for solar flares of this magnitude. We cannot make *any* meaningful statements about frequency.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (1, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | about 5 years ago | (#27356909)

Doesn't the tendency of an event recurring increase with the passage of time?

California hasn't had an earthquake recently, the chance is getting better ever day.

Earth hasn't been struck by a cataclysmic asteroid recently, the chance is getting better every day.

I'm not paranoid in any way. I'm just "actively observing." ;)

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356967)

Yeah, you know, I was born almost 30 years ago, so the odds of me being born again sometime soon are probably getting pretty good.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (4, Insightful)

wytcld (179112) | about 5 years ago | (#27356567)

It's a question of the odds. A major electrical storm occurred within the last couple of centuries. A major asteroid impact - of the sort that would do worse damage to a wide area (not just knock down some trees in Russia) - haven't seen one probably since we dropped down from the trees.

Whether you're losing sleep over it is one thing. whether we, when awake in the daytime, should be hardening our electrical grid against surges from space - well, that's a real question. Prudence doesn't mean just acting when you get scared enough that you can't sleep at night.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (2, Insightful)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | about 5 years ago | (#27356995)

I wonder if government will ever take any precautions.

They didn't about the financial crisis.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (3, Interesting)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about 5 years ago | (#27357097)

Yes, it is entirely a question of odds. Meteor showers happen on a regular--one might even say constant--basis. We have one data point for these damaging solar flares. You cannot draw meaningful conclusions of frequency from one event.

I can't imagine the cost of replacing or modifying every transformer in the grid would be remotely bearable. If it is possible to add this feature to upcoming installations at a marginal increase in cost, that would be prudent.

Unless it can be proven (unlikely) that these events will be regular enough to warrant replacing existing infrastructure, it should not be done. If this hasn't happened for more than 100 years, we can probably get away with fixing things if and when they break.

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (5, Insightful)

wytten (163159) | about 5 years ago | (#27356607)

If you don't think loss of the entire power grid would deeply affect your life, I have to wonder where you live (and that's being kind)

Re:Don't forget the asteroids. (1, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | about 5 years ago | (#27357009)

I live in the midwest... and while the recent power outage [cbsnews.com] was pretty widespread, it wasn't so deep an effect on our lives that we were scavenging the streets for food or killing anyone that looked like they wanted our food.

Honestly, the power going out is never as detrimental as many people would like to proclaim. Worst case scenario, it happens in the winter or they can't get generators to the water pumping stations.

Life goes on.

Surely there is a single word that could replace (1)

distantbody (852269) | about 5 years ago | (#27356219)

...Surely there is a single word that could replace "un-designed-for"?...

Re:Surely there is a single word that could replac (2, Funny)

Gerafix (1028986) | about 5 years ago | (#27356253)

Surely you should be glad it isn't "mis-undesigned-for", knowing /. editors.

Re:Surely there is a single word that could replac (1)

kimvette (919543) | about 5 years ago | (#27356643)

Don't worry, I'm sure some concerned slashdotter with terrible karma will step up to the plate and flame kdawson for this blunder!

kdawson (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356239)

Wait, I'm confused...

This is M$'s fault how?

I'm Ready! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356259)

Still on well? check
Grow much of my own vegetables and fruits? check
Have a bow (and arrows)? check

Re:I'm Ready! (1)

xaxa (988988) | about 5 years ago | (#27356703)

Still on well? check

I hope you don't rely on an electric pump for that.

Grow much of my own vegetables and fruits? check

You'd better have stores too, for the winter.

Have a bow (and arrows)? check

And you need to be within bicycling distance of some prey.

Another good reason. (2, Interesting)

palegray.net (1195047) | about 5 years ago | (#27356281)

Sounds like another good reason for those who can to take a serious look at getting off the grid, or at least being able to disconnect from the grid and mostly sustain their own needs on the homefront. Kinda funny that wacky survivalists might have the last laugh in an event like this.

Re:Another good reason. (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356311)

Kinda funny that wacky survivalists might have the last laugh in an event like this.

Just as long as the space weather doesn't render my firearms inoperable ;)

Re:Another good reason. (2, Funny)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#27357035)

Just as long as the space weather doesn't render my firearms inoperable ;)

I should have bought that riot gun instead of a taser. :(

Re:Another good reason. (4, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27357093)

Just as long as the space weather doesn't render my firearms inoperable ;)

I should have bought that riot gun instead of a taser. :(

Yeah, the taser isn't going to be real useful for getting yourself food, if it comes to that. Though the image of Bambi lying on the ground screaming "Don't tase me bro!" is kind of amusing ;)

Re:Another good reason. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 5 years ago | (#27356485)

So you are a doctor? Just how will you fuel your genset? Pick up a copy of HomePower sometime and you will see a lot of ads for gensets.
Also even if you have a windmill, solar, and maybe even a small hydro system so that you can live without a gen set are you sure that you will not have your inverter blow up? We are talking a huge EMP.
Also no internet, landline, and or cell....
Seems like it would be better to try and plan to keep our modern society than too move to the woods.

Re:Another good reason. (4, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | about 5 years ago | (#27356543)

So let me get this straight.

You're suggesting that because a freak event may or may not happen in someone's lifetime that they should consider living a life that they personally found miserable, so that they could point and say "Hah! I told you so!" for a few days before everyone gets power back and start playing on their XBox's in their nice warm heated houses again?

I'm not convinced it's worth drastically altering your life away from what you know and enjoy for something that may or may not ever actually happen and when it does would realistically just inconvenience you for a short period of time before getting back to normal (it wouldn't be as bad as the summary/article suggests anymore than we'd be getting blown up by terrorists daily if we listened to the Bush/British governments).

The article cites Quebec in 1989 as an example, yet today Quebec doesn't seem to be the desolate Fallout style wasteland where everyone is fending for themselves and millions die that the article infers might happen.

Re:Another good reason. (4, Funny)

courtjester801 (1415457) | about 5 years ago | (#27357027)

Quebec doesn't seem to be the desolate Fallout style wasteland where everyone is fending for themselves and millions die that the article infers might happen.

No, you're thinking of Detroit.

Re:Another good reason. (1)

YttriumOxide (837412) | about 5 years ago | (#27357101)

yet today Quebec doesn't seem to be the desolate Fallout style wasteland where everyone is fending for themselves and millions die that the article infers might happen.

Clearly you have never been to Quebec...

Okay, that was in jest, but more seriously, the biggest problem with this event would be that it'd be global (or at least 50% global) rather than localised, so while Quebec had a lot of help, the situation as mentioned would leave you with pretty much no help from anywhere. I doubt it'd be "a post apocalyptic wasteland" or anything as serious as the article as trying to infer, but it'd be REALLY annoying nevertheless.

Re:Another good reason. (1)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | about 5 years ago | (#27357255)

Not necessarily.

You don't need to disconnect of the grid. It's good to be able to disconnect, but what is important is that people don't depend too much on eletricity(or anything else), so they can live without it in case of something disasterrific happens. It is not limited to sun radiation, it could be a war or something.

Re:Another good reason. (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | about 5 years ago | (#27356671)

Sounds like another good reason for those who can to take a serious look at getting off the grid, or at least being able to disconnect from the grid and mostly sustain their own needs on the homefront. Kinda funny that wacky survivalists might have the last laugh in an event like this.

Having almost been one of those wacky survivalists (mostly interested in turning my property into a self-sustaining system), it's damned hard.

First, if you aren't willing to give up all your modern conveniences, you are going to have a great deal of equipment that is still vulnerable to this type of solar storm. Not quite ready to redo my well, it was still electric. My heat was from a wood stove, backed up by natural gas. But I really don't want to think what would happen to the battery bank from a wind turbine or solar panels in this sort of situation.

The systems that would probably fare best, are the mechanical energy systems. Wind-powered water pumps, and potentially a hydro-electric generator if properly shielded. I can just imagine solar cells acting like an antenna for the solar storms. I also doubt that the grid-connecting equipment is designed to handle anything beyond normal generator malfunctions, so you would have to be completely offgrid unless you REALLY want to send some cash for protected equipment.

Re:Another good reason. (3, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356955)

Having almost been one of those wacky survivalists (mostly interested in turning my property into a self-sustaining system), it's damned hard.

First, if you aren't willing to give up all your modern conveniences

Isn't the point of small 's' survivalism (as opposed to Survivalism) to have the ability to survive without those conveniences, not necessarily to go without them entirely?

Re:Another good reason. (1)

Locklin (1074657) | about 5 years ago | (#27356675)

So those wacky survivalists might have the last laugh *if* some rare and devastating emergency happens to occur during their lifetime and they have specifically prepared for it. And that's odd to you?

Of course they will "have the last laugh" *if* it happens. The reason the rest of us laugh at them is because they are investing so much of their resources into their "pet" unlikely contingency.

Survivalism != isolationism (5, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | about 5 years ago | (#27356729)

Last time a major TEOTWAWKI event was looming (Y2K), I described the threat to my father in great detail. His response: [shrug] "I'll throw another log on the fire and go back to my book." True enough, my folks' lives are pervaded by self-sufficiency, including extensive wood heat, well water and homegrown food. Society shuts down, they just spend a few minutes adjusting and carry on.

But ... you wouldn't guess that at a glance. They have elegantly integrated the survivalist mindset with modern conveniences, enjoying everything technology has to offer without worries of what to do if the grid shuts down indefinitely. Everything has a low-tech backup, preparations for self-sufficiency are ongoing and already in use.

You can live a "survivalist" lifestyle, and still be fully "wired". The two ways of life are not diametrically opposed.

The tenets of preparedness (5, Insightful)

zogger (617870) | about 5 years ago | (#27357227)

"Wacky survivalists" is an historically very recent notion. For the bulk of mankind's history, having a well stocked larder-stores adequate to get you through to the next harvest season- and the means to supply yourself with adequate shelter and heat and water, etc based on your own and mostly local sources was quite the ordinary norm. It has only been the last two or three generations where that started to fall out of favor.

We have had numerous examples of much smaller and more localized infrastructure destruction, and the best observations have shown that areas start to suffer fast after a three day outage of general modern technology. Just in time delivery systems and centralized power and water and natgas delivery and so on are the main cause of that.without massive outside the region resupply, that's it, civilization falls apart rapidly. Three days isn't very long. If the event/disaster is much longer than three days, and no outside help is coming in (because the next region over is just as bad off, as the region next to that, etc), you'd see some pretty dire circumstances arise.

  Here is one example for the US, we no longer maintain a national emergency bulk food stockpile. It used to be millions of bushels of this or that, dried milk and so on. We maintained that for decades, then they stopped and went to what is called set aside. This is due to farming changes and "the market". We- the government "we"- used to pay minimal price controls and stockpile various surplus foods, in order to maintain our domestic agricultural base through wild market swings and seasonal weather variations, but they more or less stopped that some time ago and now we have no stockpiled food, they sold the last of it off earlier last year finally.

In other words, on a very large scale, we have no backup civilization or big national pantry. It doesn't exist, just not there. The government has zero provisions to help the people in general at any national scale sized event. They have provisions to use military force to "stay in charge", they call it "maintaining continuity of government", that's it. We have a national petroleum reserve as the only exception, and it is in the form of just crude, it would still need refining and delivery-that's iffy enough in such a scenario to even be possible- (and even then most would go to the government and not the people).

On the other hand, there is nothing stopping people from instituting their own stores and provisions and having a personal backup protection scheme, the "wacky survivalists" type method that all our ancestors considered normal and a very good idea. In the community we still call it survivalism, but it has a less scary name now too, "practical preparedness". Here is a plain vanilla example, for roughly the same cash people put into a big screen plasma TV they can have a decent amount of long term dried stored food. For what a cheap laptop or other "must have" electronic gadget of the month costs, you can have a pretty decent gravity powered water filter. The folks in suburbia and in the hinterland get laughed at a lot as having unsustainable lifestyles, but they are living in the only places where you can have a rationally large enough local garden and access to alternative water supplies, etc, along with firewood. Choices one can choose now in other words. All the big cities would collapse rapidly in such a national sized electronic disaster as in TFA, it would become beyond ugly, right up to and including cannibalism.

Basically, the government sucks when it comes to national and practical "civil defense". They only have a military solution. The military doesn't produce anything, it just takes it/spends it/wears it out. Look at the recent articles about the relatively small numbers of homeless in California, possibly our richest state. They can't even deal with such a teeny tiny homeless situation at very low numbers adequately. Extrapolate those numbers from thousands to tens of millions or more and it becomes easy to see the problems...

So it is up to the individual now to decide to incorporate a practical preparedness plan and alter lifestyle a little bit, the article scenario is only one of many potential wildcards that could occur.

Re:Another good reason. (1)

vertinox (846076) | about 5 years ago | (#27357265)

Kinda funny that wacky survivalists might have the last laugh in an event like this.

Unless of course the space weather is so bad it kills off everything with radiation... Then those who have bunkers 100ft below the surface will have the last laugh.

Doomsday situation (3, Interesting)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | about 5 years ago | (#27356293)

Like many others here, I don't prescribe to these doomsday scenarios that get rolled onto center stage every so often.

I remember when the northeast US had a power outage that lasted a few days just a few years back. It was no where near as dramatic or dire as this summary suggests the situation could be. I still had water and gas in Ohio.

Re:Doomsday situation (5, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356387)

I remember when the northeast US had a power outage that lasted a few days just a few years back. It was no where near as dramatic or dire as this summary suggests the situation could be. I still had water and gas in Ohio.

Then you should RTFA. I read this article yesterday and toyed with submitting it but didn't bother. One of the things that could happen with a large enough space weather event is the destruction of distribution transformers on a region wide (nationwide in the case of small countries like the Scandinavian ones) scale.

No power utility has enough spare distribution transformers on hand to replace all of them after they go. They are usually built to order and take 12 months or more to produce. So why don't you imagine a power outage that lasts for months or years across the entire Northeast United States and tell me how undramatic it is? No refrigeration, no gasoline for your car (no electric to pump it through pipelines or service stations), limited and rationed modern medicine, no pumped potable water, no water treatment plants, no HVAC systems, limited communications, etc, etc, etc.

Sound dire enough to take seriously now?

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | about 5 years ago | (#27356501)

They go boom, they get replaced or otherwise repaired. The situation if so drastic would right itself due to economic forces that encourage such. We have the technology and knowledge to fix these sorts of problems, which leaves the only other factor - money. It will always be more expensive to be without power than it is to restore power, hence a solution will be put into place, even in the worst case scenario.

I could imagine alongside you all day, but it won't ever come to pass. Have fun RTFA.

Re:Doomsday situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356719)

I'm surprised no one has asked..

But how easy is it to replace/rebuild one of said damaged transformers...Without Power?

Re:Doomsday situation (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356751)

They go boom, they get replaced or otherwise repaired. The situation if so drastic would right itself due to economic forces that encourage such.

What part of 12 months to build them is so hard to understand? Even if that timescale could be shortened do you think the infrastructure exists to produce large numbers of these items in a short period of time? Yes the situation would eventually right itself through economic and other factors. Yes the human race would survive. But you'd still have hundreds of millions of people without power and the benefits of modern civilization for months. Almost every single piece of technology that supports civilization (particularly high population density civilization) depends on the electrical grid

I could imagine alongside you all day, but it won't ever come to pass. Have fun RTFA.

It has [nasa.gov] come to pass in the past. Within the last 200 years as a matter of fact. If a similiar event happened today (the whole point of the article that you apparently refuse to read) it would wreck havoc with modern infrastructure. In 1859 all that existed to disrupt were telegraph networks. Today our entire civilization depends on infrastructure that is vulnerable.

Sticking your head in the sand and refusing to even read the article might be typical /. behavior but all it accomplishes in the end is to confirm your ignorance.

Re:Doomsday situation (0, Troll)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | about 5 years ago | (#27356885)

12 months? I ignored that part because it was painfully naive.

If they have a 12 month production cycle, what do you think that factory is doing right now? Sitting empty waiting for a catastrophe to occur so that they can hire an entire staff to start their 12 month production cycle? Get a clue.

They are producing units right now, albeit well under max capacity. The units they produce are being sold across the global market, because thats the nature of big electrical infrastructure equipment. Whats not immediately sold is being warehoused until it will be sold. When the catastrophe hits in your imagination these warehouses will be depleted and production will ramp to max and the problem will solve itself.

Your also basing your argument on the assumption that nothing has occured since 1859 which makes our electrical grid more robust and resistant to such disturbances.

All in all, there are a lot of mitigating factors you have to ignore in order to expect that when an event like this occurs that entire regions of the US will be without power for months. Its a pipe dream.

Re:Doomsday situation (0)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27357021)

If they have a 12 month production cycle, what do you think that factory is doing right now?

Building transformers for a different utility? You did notice the "usually built to order" part, right? These aren't plug and play pieces of equipment you are talking about. They are usually specifically designed for the electrical grid they are destined for.

Your also basing your argument on the assumption that nothing has occured since 1859 which makes our electrical grid more robust and resistant to such disturbances.

I'm not making any argument other than TFA makes some legitimate points. You apparently refuse to even read TFA and I see no further point in having an argument with someone who is trying to counter arguments that he hasn't even read.

Re:Doomsday situation (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27357149)

What part of "built to order" do you have trouble comprehending?

These unit are all custom made.

There is no warehouse stock. The manufacturing plants' max capacity is scaled to meet demand, no more.

The substation transformers aren't even made in North America anymore, they're ordered from overseas.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

super-papa (1175241) | about 5 years ago | (#27356783)

Sure, charge it into my credit/debit card. What? No Posnet?. Ok, then i'll write a check. Can't call the bank to verify it? Ok, i'll go to the ATM. What? No ATM?. Ok, i'll go into the bank and ask the human teller to give me the cash. What? No system?. How am I supposed to pay for it? Unless of course I get some bottlecaps... (Cue in The Ink Spots's 'Maybe').

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

Deag (250823) | about 5 years ago | (#27356725)

In fairness if the pump fails on a service station, I'd give it a week before someone digs a hole and uses a bucket.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 years ago | (#27356769)

no, better to ignore the article,it's a bunch of sensationalist crap that gets stress-puppy personalities all wound up. Reality is that repeated stresses over period of many days or weeks would lead to occasional and sporadic failures.

I call bullshit... (4, Interesting)

denzacar (181829) | about 5 years ago | (#27356825)

Bullshit, FUD and fearmongering...

No power utility has enough spare distribution transformers on hand to replace all of them after they go. They are usually built to order and take 12 months or more to produce. So why don't you imagine a power outage that lasts for months or years across the entire Northeast United States and tell me how undramatic it is? No refrigeration, no gasoline for your car (no electric to pump it through pipelines or service stations), limited and rationed modern medicine, no pumped potable water, no water treatment plants, no HVAC systems, limited communications, etc, etc, etc.

In a case of a large scale power-system breakdown you don't go and try to bring it all back up all at once.
And you sure as hell don't sit on your ass crying, mourning the end of civilization and your X-box points.

Instead, teams of experienced technicians (you know... all those people with the various degrees in electrical engineering) start fixing the grid so that they can have parts of it running as soon as possible.
1 transformer, 2 transformers, 3 transformers, 4...
You lack the parts? Pillage the dead transformers. There is a PRETTY good chance you can take 2 or 3 dead ones and have 1 working in under 24 hours.
Fix the ones that CAN be fixed, leave the completely messed up ones for later replacement.
Don't have enough power to power the entire town cause the nation-wide system is down? DON'T.
Give one half of town 12 hours of power and then turn them off for the next 12 hours while the other half gets their 12 hours. Or 8. Or 6.

Hell... During the war (I'm from Bosnia) people used to steal cooling oil from the transformers (you can run chainsaws for cutting wood, and even cars on that stuff), artillery shells would explode next to them drilling them up with shrapnel, even the local power-plant got hit couple of times so bad that technicians had to take it off line to patch the pipes in the cooling towers.
Let me tell you... you get used to 4 hours of electricity per day (or less) VERY fast.
You leave the lights on to wake you up when it comes on.
Charge the batteries, cook, wash clothes, heat up the boiler and then go about your business waiting for better times.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

cabjf (710106) | about 5 years ago | (#27356887)

I think you'll see the fastest shift from remote power generation to local ever. While it would take a long time to replace all the transformers, that's not to say everyone would sit around and twiddle their thumbs waiting for the power to get turned back on.

Who would complain about things like wind power being an eyesore when there is suddenly a great need for power production in the immediate vicinity? I think it would spell the end of any smaller towns out away from large cities and the cities will be the only communities large and close enough together to put up their own local power infrastructure.

Re:Doomsday situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27357007)

One of my clients makes *big* transformers - they can supply ex-works in a few months; in an emergency a standard model in a few weeks.

You can also source low-cost standard transformers from India pretty-much in the time it takes to ship; so say a month max. to continental USA.

It's unlikely that all of the world's transformer plants would be knocked out at the ame time.

Where you are right, of course, is in the volume. If hundreds, or thousands, of transformers were knocked-out then that would take a lot of time to replace.

Re:Doomsday situation (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356397)

A simple power outage is not comparable to what would be the inability to transport power due to actual massive hardware damage. I doubt the incumbent power companies have enough backup transformers for every single one... nation wide. Or the manpower to do it within reasonable time frames.

It is possible, if very improbable.

Re:Doomsday situation (2, Informative)

CyprusBlue113 (1294000) | about 5 years ago | (#27356463)

That NE power outage was mostly just load induced (power lines sagging and grounding on trees) disconnects, and a few key damaged lines. What they are talking about is a not insignifigant percentage of the main distribution transformers being damaged enough to be inoperable, plus a number of other effects, if caught unaware.

The reason this would be an issue is not that it would take down the distribution grid due to load effects. The concern with a CME of that size, is that it would destroy a large percentage of the grid's hardware, requiring weeks of work to fix.

A few days isn't a big deal to overcome as most systems have 72hours to a week of backup generator capacity, but that becomes an issue if the fuel distribution is interrupted as well due to similar problems.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#27356495)

I thought we had circuit breakers to prevent these problems.

Solar storm comes and trips breakers
Solar storm passes, reset breakers

See, not so bad.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#27356629)

I thought we had circuit breakers to prevent these problems.

You don't need a closed circuit to fry a small coil with a big enough inductive load.

But aren't these things fairly well shielded anyway? I can't imagine a big EMP pulse getting through a zinc wrapper (galvanised steel can, isn't it?) and then I'd think you're dealing with some fairly heavy duty windings. Power line transformers survive lightning strikes sometimes, don't they?

Electronics, yes, some stuff would fry. But electrical supply? I don't think so. Some of the SCADA controllers would fry, but those have kind of a run-flat capability I believe.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

Thelasko (1196535) | about 5 years ago | (#27356679)

But aren't these things fairly well shielded anyway?

Exactly, I think this whole article is alarmist, it doesn't even mention any of these possible protection devices.

Re:Doomsday situation (2, Informative)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | about 5 years ago | (#27356787)

But aren't these things fairly well shielded anyway? I can't imagine a big EMP pulse getting through a zinc wrapper (galvanised steel can, isn't it?) and then I'd think you're dealing with some fairly heavy duty windings. Power line transformers survive lightning strikes sometimes, don't they?

Electronics, yes, some stuff would fry. But electrical supply?

The problem is the really long wires in the power grid. EMP effects are of the form "X volts per meter", so I'd expect your wristwatch and unplugged laptop to be fine. Power transformers connected to miles of wire wouldn't do so well... maybe the voltages wouldn't actually be much higher than the normal multi-kilovolt line voltages, but they'd be DC (or very low frequency) instead of 60 Hz AC which makes a big difference for inductive devices like transformers.

I believe circuit breakers are also harder to make work with DC than with AC. Apparently they arc when first opening, and DC arcs don't extinguish as easily as AC arcs. So even if they do have circuit breakers, they might not work unless opened before it hits.

Re:Doomsday situation (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356829)

But aren't these things fairly well shielded anyway?

No, they aren't. The part of the grid that picks up the load is the distribution lines themselves. They aren't shielded in any deployment that I'm aware of and it would probably be prohibitively expensive to do so.

The inductive load imparts a huge amount of DC current onto the AC power grid and trashes the windings in the connected transformers. The defense is to disconnect those transformers from the grid but that only works if you have enough advance warning. Currently we have no formal process to handle this early warning (though the technology does exist) and no plans/procedures in place to disseminate that warning to the power utilities and for them to take action.

RTFA. It's actually a pretty interesting read. It's not a doomsday scenario -- we'd survive as a people and as a country. We'd just suffer some pretty substantial damage in the process.

Re:Doomsday situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356699)

Circuit breakers are only good up to a certain voltage. Past a certain point the electricity can arc across the gap.

Re:Doomsday situation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356901)

I thought we had circuit breakers to prevent these problems.

Something has to tell the breakers to trip. That would be protective relaying. Google for"overvoltage protection transmission line" and "overvoltage relaying transmission line" (and same, but substitute transformer for transmission line) will get you hundreds of thousands of hits.

That said, the relays may not be set specifically to deal with the transients produced by this phenomenon, but it seems possible that the best strategy to deal with this is to set the protective relays to protect from this situation (if the present settings do not already do so.)

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#27356623)

This isn't another one of those 'doomsday scenarios'. This is the real deal. Imagine massive, permanent, physical damage to the entire electrical grid. What happened a few years ago was not anything like that. Sure, a few transformers went out, but not on the massive scale they're talking about here.

Re:Doomsday situation (1)

I.M.O.G. (811163) | about 5 years ago | (#27356965)

Imagine massive, permanent, physical damage to the entire electrical grid.

That isn't a doomsday scenario? An event causing massive permanent damage to the entire electrical grid - thats an event of unheard of magnitude. Sounds like science fiction to me. *shrug*

Scientists seem not to know their role (1, Flamebait)

tkjtkj (577219) | about 5 years ago | (#27356309)

"It became known as the Carrington event, and the National Academy of Sciences worries about the impact of another such event today and the lack of awareness among officials." Hogwash! Disingenuous shirking of responsibilities! 'officials', which seems to refer to polititians, are not scientists. It is not their job to scan the heavens for signs of danger: they can scarcely do that job here on earth! It is the SCIENTISTS who endure the burden here ... If officials dont know, it can only be because scientists have not told them!!! Wake up!

Re:Scientists seem not to know their role (1)

denis-The-menace (471988) | about 5 years ago | (#27356497)

If the Scientists (aka engineers) tell officials:
"Hey lets think ahead in-case of a Carrington event. It will only cost us 5% more and save humanity's bacon big time when it happens."

What do YOU think the almighty/knowing OFFICIALS would answer?
That's right a big F'n *NO*

OFFICIALS only fix things *after* something bad happens because nobody will give them a bonus/raise/kudo for preventing something bad that hasn't happened yet.

Re:Scientists seem not to know their role (1)

Xest (935314) | about 5 years ago | (#27356609)

The point is, scientists rely on officials for funding, and certainly here in the UK at least the politicians would rather spend money on things like DNA databases and supression of it's citizens than anything that they see as such an inconvenience as science.

To put it into context with some figures, the British government is working on an ID card scheme which has been predicted to cost as much as £18bn despite no opposition parties being for the scheme and despite the citizens and many other top figures such as the ex-security services chief being against it. The government also cut £80 million of funding for science a year or so ago meaning we had to cut some important research projects, see here:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article4138240.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Of course, Britain is only one of many countries but it's still a good example of how well politicians and science go together. If Britain's Labour government can spend £18bn on a scheme no one wants and which is essentially unworkable whilst telling scientists they have to cut £80m of projects, it shows how important science is to politicians.

Make no mistake, "officials" most definitely are at fault. There are plenty of scientists willing to do the science but they can't do it alone, without funding, in their garage.

The Big Power Cuts (3, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 5 years ago | (#27356351)

I live in the countryside. Well, more the suburbs now. Since time immemorial people in rural areas have had to deal with power cuts and blackouts, sometimes lasting days.

Amazingly, the vast majority survived.

Candles, flashlamps, tinned food and a fireplace get you through most of the time. Bedtime usually comes earlier. Yes you can't play video games or listen to your mp3s, but there are book, or at worst other people with which you can occupy your time.

As much as the thought of millions of pampered city dwellers wailing helplessly in the darkness might amuse me, I can not imagine that their lives are so different to country people as to make survival a difficult prospect. Yes, it could take days for the power to come back. But people will make it. Business will make it. Society and civilization as we know it, will probably make it.

Yes. I know that sci-fi-esque stories using words like "electromagnetic", "storm" and "disaster" might worry those with active imaginations. I know that newspapers love to print them next to their ad pages. Someday, someone might even make a Hollywood movie about just such a tale, and then people will really start talking about it. But people must always try to remember that just because someone says something, that doesn't mean they are correct.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (4, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | about 5 years ago | (#27356409)

Yes, it could take days for the power to come back

Try months or years if the event is large enough to destroy transformers on a region or nationwide scale.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (1)

blueg3 (192743) | about 5 years ago | (#27356755)

You'd think people would divert significantly more resources into building new transformers.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356423)

Actually, these concerns are valid.
City-dwellers only have access to food through the suppl infrastructure present, if that's cut off, people begin starving.

Also, the power blackouts you are talking about are local, and not nation-wide, if all power is cut simultaneously, bad things happen.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (4, Insightful)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#27356681)

As much as the thought of millions of pampered city dwellers wailing helplessly in the darkness might amuse me, I can not imagine that their lives are so different to country people as to make survival a difficult prospect.

There are a number of potential problems that us pampered city dwellers have to deal with in the case of an extended power outage that simply aren't as much of a problem in rural areas, such as:
1. Traffic lights being shut down, which can grind traffic and thus commerce to a halt.
2. Crime.
3. Panicking people who don't have the sense to just wait it out.

And of course, most everyone who works in technical jobs is out of work until the power comes back on.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356735)

You seriously misunderestimate the effect electromagnetic radiation has on our power delivery system (Transformers) no, not the movie)).

Re:The Big Power Cuts (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | about 5 years ago | (#27356799)

As much as the thought of millions of pampered city dwellers wailing helplessly in the darkness might amuse me, I can not imagine that their lives are so different to country people as to make survival a difficult prospect. Yes, it could take days for the power to come back. But people will make it. Business will make it. Society and civilization as we know it, will probably make it.

If we were talking about a few days, I'd agree with you. But we're talking months or years before the power infrastructure could be rebuilt from the massive, permanent damage TFA is is talking about.

Folks in the countryside usually have the means to be entirely self-sufficient: they can grow their own food, slaughter their own pigs and chickens and cows, etc.

Folks in the city don't have this luxury. Sure, I can grow a few vegetables in my yard, but surely I don't have near enough land to raise animals for meat or even enough vegetables to last for that long. Where would we get our food? There would be no means to ship the food after a few days when the fuel runs out in all the trucks and trains that transport our food.

Furthermore, folks raised in the city don't know how to be self-sufficient. You might take it for granted if you have knowledge of how to milk a cow or how to grow tomatoes or how to raise chickens and pigs, but there are many city dwellers who have never even seen a real, live cow outside of a petting zoo.

Re:The Big Power Cuts (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | about 5 years ago | (#27357065)

Just hope that it doesn't happen in the winter.

No power - no heat. Even with natural gas, you can't turn on the furnace or the blower to get that heat throughout the house.

No heat - pipes freeze. No pipes, no water. Sure you can drain your pipes, but you still don't have water until the heat is back. Now you have to worry about what to drink, (no heat, it's hard to melt snow), and how to take care of sanitation.

No power, no transportation. In a large city you NEED the traffic lights, especially if the problem hits during the peak commute hours. Also, gas stations won't work because they can't ring up a sale, or use their electric pumps to get the gas out of their storage tanks.

No power, no emergency communication system. How many people actually keep a battery-powered or even a hand-cranked radio handy? Not many. The Internet will be down - all the network equipment needs power. Data centers might be on backup power but, for how long, and how will someone communicate with them when all the routers between them have gone down? Cell towers are supposed to have 48 hours of backup power but, with the increased use, they probably won't last that long. Plus, most people won't be able to charge their cell phones and won't think to turn them off when they aren't using them.

Another thing - you probably have a few days, or even weeks of food because you have a house with some space for an extra freezer, or a pantry. If you are living in a 400 sq ft. apartment, you don't have a lot of stuff on hand. Even if you do, if you have an electric cooktop or microwave you have to eat it cold or raw in the case of meat.

Moral of the story? Stock up on staple items that are simple to prepare. Be prepared to store your own water and know how to drain your pipes. Have some hand-cranked safety gear like flashlights and radios. Be prepared to defend what you have from neighbors that are hungry and desperate. It's a sad idea but starvation will turn your best friend into your worst enemy in a fight for some crackers.

Space weather can't be prepared for ... at all (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356361)

If any sun within our "galactic cluster" were to go nova a full 52% of the earth surface would receive a lethal dose of microwave radiation, killing any human (and any larger animal) that isn't protected by at least a layer of solid metal.

But don't think the survivors would be that lucky. This event would also create an athmospheric storm so huge it would blow large sections of the athmosphere into space, maybe as much as 20-30% of the total. Air pressure at the surface would drop to about 600 for at least several months if not years. The lowest level humans can survive is well above 700. Even 900 is certainly not fun at all.

The scary thing ? A sun going nova in our galactic cluster "should" occur about once every 20.000 years. Clearly we've been lucky now for 170.000 years at least. Ironically just about the only thing that would survive populated for a few months would be the international space station, if it were located in the shadow of the earth during the blast.

Re:Space weather can't be prepared for ... at all (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#27356765)

The scary thing ? A sun going nova in our galactic cluster "should" occur about once every 20.000 years. Clearly we've been lucky now for 170.000 years at least.

Either that or your hypothesis is wrong, perhaps.

We're screwed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356383)

So, basically, we're screwed, there's no hope, the sun is going to put us into a post-apocalyptic stone age.

Well, glad that's over with.

Our only warning system is ACE? (4, Informative)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 5 years ago | (#27356437)

That's just flat out wrong.

ACE might have a better ground network (let's face it, it's easier to talk to as it's at L1), but STEREO-Behind can see areas of the sun that aren't visible from any other solar-observing mission. It's also remote sensing (ie, telescopes), so it doesn't have to wait until it gets hit by an event. (at which point, we're looking at the last 1M miles of a 93M mile trip)

There's also instruments that have proven space-weather benefits on SOHO, but that's even older than ACE. I'm not going to say that ACE isn't the most important satellite in NOAA's eyes for predicting space weather (and some of their space weather folks have even mentioned that they might have to put up a similar satellite when ACE finally fails), but saying it's the only warning system discounts all of the other solar-observing missions used for space weather forecasting.

Re:Our only warning system is ACE? (1)

savanik (1090193) | about 5 years ago | (#27357201)

Mod parent up.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Carrington event - mentioned in TFA - was detected a day earlier than the CFE strike. And it was detected by some guy with an earth-bound telescope in the 1800's.

To say that we have only 15 minutes of warning is ludicrous. Lots of people on earth watch the sun through telescopes, not the least of which are all the scientists studying our sun today.

Prevention (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356519)

Now, let's hunt down Carrington's descendants so that this never happens again!

Solar Cycle 24 (1)

mikesd81 (518581) | about 5 years ago | (#27356533)

has recently begun [nasa.gov]. From the link:

The onset of a new solar cycle is significant because of our increasingly space-based technological society. "Solar storms can disable satellites that we depend on for weather forecasts and GPS navigation," says Hathaway. Radio bursts from solar flares can directly interfere with cell phone reception while coronal mass ejections (CMEs) hitting Earth can cause electrical power outages. "The most famous example is the Quebec outage of 1989, which left some Canadians without power for as much as six days."

Scientists also say this is the worst one in decades.

quiet sun? (2, Informative)

scharkalvin (72228) | about 5 years ago | (#27356537)

The risk might not be as great in the near future as described. For one, solar flares large enough to do such damage are rare. Also in now appears that the sun is entering a more quiet phase, the next solar cycle that should have started by now hasn't, and the predictions for max sun spot numbers for the next cycle have been done graded several times. Short wave radio reception will probably not be as good as it was in the past 20 years. The Canadian flare incident happened during one of the more active solar periods, perhaps the last one for next century.

Re:quiet sun? (1)

Lokatana (530146) | about 5 years ago | (#27356661)

The sun moves in an 11 year cycle. Right now we're at the bottom part of the cycle, within 3 years we will be back at the top of the cycle. -Lok

Not underappreciated, just irrelevant (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 5 years ago | (#27356579)

How is space weather relevant, given that there's completely nothing you can do about it? It's not like putting tape on your windows will help keep your electrical grid from frying.

Re:Not underappreciated, just irrelevant (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | about 5 years ago | (#27356763)

How is space weather relevant, given that there's completely nothing you can do about it? It's not like putting tape on your windows will help keep your electrical grid from frying.

1. We can make a plan for when this happens.
2. We can build back-ups for the very essential infrastructure.
3. We can even attempt to protect our equipment and avoid the catastrophic failure.

4. And I can go by bike to work, and do my work with pen and paper, and communicate results by ordinary mail. I'm sure it's very peaceful and relaxing. :)

What do you mean "we can't do anything about it"?

All it takes to keep the water running is a system that we have had for over a century. The water system in the 1960's was perhaps not as good as we have now, but it worked... and it sure as hell wasn't going to get fried because of some solar flares. Get a large tank full of diesel to keep the pumps running, and you're done.

Pacemakers? (4, Interesting)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | about 5 years ago | (#27356581)

As a cyborg (literally, if technically) I have to wonder what such a solar electrical storm would do to implanted electronic medical devices, such as my pacemaker. Any knowledgeable insights? If this [medtronic.com] shuts down, I'm history in seconds.

i think you'll be ok (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#27357019)

the problem with a powerful moving magnetic field is induction: it forces eletron flow in wires. emphasis: wires, or any piece of metal with a large ratio of length/ width/ height to the other two dimensions. a wire is a perfect victim for a moving magnetic field because it presents a very long cross section to the magnetic field, and thats what makes the induction powerful

meanwhile, your medtronic device is small and compact, so it doesn't present a large cross section to the magnetic field as it hits the earth

Everybody should learn basic survival skills (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27356603)

Everyone should know how to build a basic cooking fire. Everyone should have at least one solar panel. Everyone should have spare water. Everyone should be able to kill & gut a fish, gopher, (or neighborhood dog if necessary). It seems like everyone today looks toward the government for help during emergencies when they should be relying on family and community.
If a big earthquake hits or a big solar flare lands... the government isn't going to get help to you for at least TWO WEEKS.

Significant problem, amazingly poor article. (4, Insightful)

Tildedot (137711) | about 5 years ago | (#27356801)

I really expect more from these guys.

That the power grid in this country would become a set of large antennas during a "carrington event" is an interesting problem. Inducted current would be tremendous. There would be fires, almost certainly, and blown transformers. Fusable links might help with the transformer issue, but I'm sure that some significant amount of transformer capability would be taken offline. Power stations would likely be immune from meltdown, but I don't know if standard trips would keep them all whole. Let's say that some 50% of the generating capacity (very generous), and 70% of the transformers (possibly low), were taken out by this event. A significant inconvenience, to be sure. Nothing that we, as individuals -- and as a society, could not handle. To assume, like the authors of this article, that the most powerful country in the world would simply roll-over is preposterous.

To propose, seriously, that "Modern Healthcare" would end in 72 hours when the emergency generators ran out of fuel -- this is ridiculous. The article's premise that modern civilization in our country would be thrown back to "third world" conditions is also completely without merit. Not to belittle the situation -- it would, in a word, suck. That said, we would rise to the occasion, I am sure of it.

Let's just, for a moment, reflect on how deep the fuel infrastructure is in this country. A power grid is not required for fuel distribution, though some level of power is required. Pumps that pump diesel can be run by generators, many refineries are capable of using their own product to generate power, and distribution of fuel to Hospitals and the like is a standard emergency procedure. Trains, tanker trucks, and ships continue to run. The transportation infrastructure would remain largely intact beyond the boundaries of very large metropolitan areas. The roads would continue to roll, and with it, teams of people working to fix the problem.

First, the plants, then the substations, then the cities and transmission lines. Would it be hard? Of course it would be hard. But we would continue to make it work, to adapt and overcome, and in the process make it better.

SpaceWeather.Com (3, Informative)

Sigfried (779148) | about 5 years ago | (#27356879)

Check out spaceweather.com. It has been around for some time, and has some excellent aurora galleries [spaceweather.com]. Besides summarized ACE data, this website also features the techie-cool far side views of the sun from SOHO, computed using helioseismic holography. For the truly worried, they offer for-fee email solar-flare alert services, which also come in handy if you just want to know when to go out to look for auroras. Anyway, most of the site is non-subscription, and it's worth a look.

Why is this being pushed now? (1)

scorp1us (235526) | about 5 years ago | (#27356941)

This is the time of a solar minimum, then the sun is quieter that ever. Literally, it has the lowest recorded activity, ever.

At the same time, I see these articles warning of a nationally nightly connected power grid. At the same time, Gore is arguing for a national highly connected power grid. What I take from that is Gore should not be the one deciding how we structure our power grid. He's plunge the entire nation into blackness for weeks, rather than just a portion of it. With global consequences far exceeding anything global warming can dish out in the next 200 years...

Laputa (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | about 5 years ago | (#27357079)

Is no one here reminded of the floating island of Laputa in Gulliver's Travels? You have a bunch of people on a magnetically floating island looking up and worrying about the state of the sun, and thinking that the world is just about to end.

capacitors (1)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | about 5 years ago | (#27357105)

What about putting some large capacitors in series with the transformers? A capacitor will pass AC without too much trouble, but will block DC currents such as the ones a solar event (or an EMP) will create. Even if the voltage generated is too high, one could use relays across the capacitors to detect DC voltages and use them to trip existing emergency disconnects.

Of course, the big question is (and always will be), how much would it cost?

is an early warning system possible?? (1)

TrdrJoe (856523) | about 5 years ago | (#27357129)

A satellite can't observe a solar flare from space and warn us 15 minutes before it arrives at earth... any warning that the satellite sends to earth would arrive at the same time (or later) as the radiation it detected.

So, the satellite must be able to detect the solar flare well before it happens, but anything the satellite sees 15 minutes before the flare, we also see on earth 15 minutes before the flare. Maybe the satellite has a clearer view of the sun, but that just means it is a better warning system than instruments on earth, not really an early warning system.

Transzorbs and MOVs (0)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 years ago | (#27357137)

Even consumer grade electronics are designed to handle electrical storms and static discharges.

"Ooooh, the world will end tomorrow!"

Stupid idiots.

GNAA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27357161)

for a liv1ng got And she ran

scararist attempt to subtly promote 'smart grid' (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27357261)

More scare mongering for smart grid?

So this is part of the push for smart grid?
Do people get paid to be spokes parrots of the powerful? I guess they must.
Here is the current crop of paid agenda farming that I have noticed:
    1. Twitter. really discusting promotion of microblogging mostly by Left leaning Democrats and their toadies.
    2. Global Warming. This is the excuse for all kinds of horrers, including massive redistribution of wealth.
    3. 'Smart Grid'. someone must have a lot invested in this to pay off NASA scientist to create a scare mongering report about 'fireballs from the sun taking out the world'.

    If fireballs from the sun really are as bad as they say, then wouldn't it be a better thing to have no grid? That way there won't be a coupling.

Oh, but that isn't what the agenda is.

Here is an interesting point about smart grid:
how much energy is wasted by putting all of these sensors on the internet? How many kilowatts will be wasted monitoring levels of things that don't really need to be monitored?

Gee, it must be great to be someone who can buy a doctorate degree and then write scare mongering articles at the behest of some giant unspoken unknown entity that seeks world domination.

Hey, it might not be true but it is a great idea of a novel. Let's put this in the category of paranoid conspiracy theories that have a ring of truth to them, kind of like Assops fables for the modern age.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...