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Sunspot Tosses Plasma Cloud Toward Earth

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the how-inconsiderate dept.

Space 94

parallel_prankster writes "The Washington Post reports that a huge sunspot unleashed a blob of charged plasma Thursday that space weather watchers predict will blast past the Earth on Sunday. Satellite operators and power companies are keeping a close eye on the incoming cloud, which could distort the Earth's magnetic field and disrupt radio communications, especially at higher latitudes. The huge blob of charged gas spotted by NASA satellites is speeding toward Earth at more than 2 million mph. The most damaging solar discharges, which are very rare, can move at speeds more than twice that fast. Here's a more detailed article with some animation."

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Anonymous Coward releases huge first post (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767050)

Anonymous Coward releases huge first post towards slashdot discussion.

Re:Anonymous Coward releases huge first post (0, Offtopic)

akeeneye (1788292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767072)

Devastating.

Could this cut off Facebook access? (5, Funny)

akeeneye (1788292) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767052)

Oh the humanity!

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (1, Flamebait)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767268)

Heh, yeah, time wasting on Slashdot is much more fashionable!

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (4, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768460)

I've thought long and hard about my flamebait moderation and I was just like to stop and apologize for implying that posting on Slashdot in the middle of a work day is as much of a waste of time as Facebook. I never meant any harm and I hope we can put this behind us.

Now let's return to our discussion about how much Facebook sucks in this story about a plasma storm.

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (3, Funny)

RenderSeven (938535) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767540)

It will just cut off any useful Facebook access. Oh, wait... never mind.

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770580)

Good God man, don't even joke about such a thing! Think about it, think about every. single. person. you know that practically lives on that crap and suddenly they don't have access.....and you're a geek....who knows about computers.....Jesus Tap Dancing Christ on a crutch man our phones will be ringing off the damned hook, on a Sunday no less!

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38775624)

just turn off your cell phone and blame it on the Plasma Cloud

Re:Could this cut off Facebook access? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767578)

Only if we're really lucky.

Mayan Calendar (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767070)

Coincidence? Or does this remind you of a scheduled event per the Mayan Calendar anyone?

Re:Mayan Calendar (4, Funny)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767104)

Coincidence? Or does this remind you of a scheduled event per the Mayan Calendar anyone?

Hmm...let me check my Mayan calendar...

...hmm...Thursday I have that office party....and next Sunday is your mother's birthday....

uh...nope--no scheduled giant plasma cloud.

Re:Mayan Calendar (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768830)

No worries. Those giant plasma cloud events are never as much fun as the brochures make them look. Oh, sure they've got zero gravity, but how entertaining is that really?

Re:Mayan Calendar (1)

celtic_hackr (579828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770720)

The Sky is falling!

The Sky is FALLING!

Oh, wait ... no that's just a Russian probe. My bad.

Re:Mayan Calendar (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#38772550)

Those office parties are the best! They always find the hottest virgins to toss off the ziggurat.

Re:Mayan Calendar (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767280)

It reminds me of manbearpig... We'd better pass some laws against plasma clouds immediately! :)

No it doesn't. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38769550)

You moron. If you don't believe they were right about it being December, why would there be any better reason to believe it would still be 2012 in that case? You can't just pick and choose some bits of it and not others and pretend it's still a match.

Re:No it doesn't. (2)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38772950)

You can't just pick and choose some bits of it and not others and pretend it's still a match.

You can if it = { Koran, Bible, Torah }

Another sequel to the 1958 hit (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767074)

The summary just makes me thing of The Blob so I have trouble taking it seriously.

Re:Another sequel to the 1958 hit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767262)

It swoops and slides
and whips through o-pen space
It creeps and sweeps
and cuts through radio waves

BEWARE OF THE BLOB

With apologies to The Five Blobs

Re:Another sequel to the 1958 hit (4, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767562)

Would this [nasa.gov] help you take it more seriously?

(really, nothing to worry about anyway. it will just fuck up radio propagation and such)

Re:Another sequel to the 1958 hit (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768698)

I vaguely remember something about the satellites used to detect these types of events being near their useful life expectancy and that there wasn't money to replace them being allocated.

Anybody have anything on that? googling didn't seem to turn up much wheat vs chaff... or maybe I'm thinking of earth weather satellites not being replaced...

Just randomly thinking out loud.

Shinku... (4, Funny)

PlatyPaul (690601) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767136)

Hadoken!

Re:Shinku... (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767632)

That is a stupid and immature response for such an important topic!

Everyone knows it should be "Kame-Hame-Ha! [wikia.com] "

Re:Shinku... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38768906)

REFLECT!

Re:Shinku... (1)

l00sr (266426) | more than 2 years ago | (#38777337)

HaDOOOOOOken

FTFY.

Oh man (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767138)

How do these events affect the Space Elevator we'll start building in the next few years? We better hurry too, we seem to be unable to right a small boat in a river, I wonder how long it'll take to build a space elevator?

Aurora (1)

scubamage (727538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767148)

So, does this mean there will be lots of auroras sunday night? I've never seen one before, and would absolutely love the chance.

Re:Aurora (2)

bored_engineer (951004) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767340)

Probably not [noaa.gov] , unless you live at a pretty high latitude. If it's not cloudy and doesn't cool off from the current balmy temperature of -35F, then I'll be out taking pictures on Sunday.

who cares? (-1)

DumbMarketingGuy (171031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767156)

How is this "news for nerds" or "stuff that matters"? Is it just me or is slashdot turning into Fox News recently?

I didn't read the article, but I doubt this is as much of a big deal as the sensationalist tile makes out.

Re:who cares? (1, Interesting)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767210)

Because it is 2012 and all common spacial activities will be labeled as the "end of the world" like event, for the , i told you so at a starbucks near you.

Re:who cares? (3, Informative)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767634)

Perhaps it's "news for nerds" because it does actually affect [n0hr.com] nerds?

Re:who cares? (2)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767902)

You don't think coronal mass ejections -- a stream of plasma bigger than our planet and traveling at millions of miles an hour -- or other aspects of space weather are nerdy?

Um, okay.

Anyway, who cares? I care. This is very nerdy news which I am happy to have on /.

Re:who cares? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767932)

Buddy, you're are on the wrong site, if you need this explained to you. Are you, perchance, related to Seth at UserFriendly?

Re:who cares? (1)

aplusjimages (939458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767986)

Um it matters because some nerds haven't finished Skyrim. This could be a deadline.

Re:who cares? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38768764)

Coming from a guy named "DumbMarketingGuy (171031)", it's pretty hard to explain to a non-nerd like yourself why nerds find nerdy things interesting. You just aren't going to "get it"

In fact you are likely going to find NOTHING of interest on this website.
The "Stuff that Matters" bit is implied the stuff only matters to slashdots target audience, aka nerds, not you.

Perhaps you would prefer the stock tickers on Fox news instead?
Or perhaps you should just refrain from posting until a story pointing out your marketing companies slimy tactics comes up where you get paid to astroturf.

Re:who cares? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38776457)

LMAO. When reading the other responses to this post I heard a bunch of whoosing noises. Read the OP's handle if you need a clue.

It is likely to miss (5, Informative)

Cochonou (576531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767164)

If you are interested in such matters, you will follow the Space Weather Prediction Center [noaa.gov] site. Here is their latest advisory:

SWPC Forecasters have determined that the CME from NOAA Region 1402 near disk center yesterday will likely pass above (north) of Earth. This glancing blow will cause just G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity. Look for the first signs of it around 1800Z (1:00 pm EST) on Sunday, January 22, with the bulk of the disturbance to occur Monday, January 23. Watch here for updates.

Re:It is likely to miss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767430)

Yeah, but "This glancing blow will cause just G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity" sounds so much less dire than the "Sunspot Tosses Plasma Cloud Toward Earth" and "huge blob of charged gas spotted by NASA satellites is speeding toward Earth at more than 2 million mph."

Re:It is likely to miss (1)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767762)

Hmm. Well like usual, in Canada. It'll be cloudy, with snow. So, looks like there won't be anything to see anyway.

just great (0, Offtopic)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767246)

Sunspot and Plasma cloud. two more things my Oracle contract will surely never support.

Re:just great (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767334)

Revise your terms, on the "sunspot" at least.

A question: (2)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767308)

What makes for a good shielding for home electronics on such matters? Lead sheets?

Re:A question: (5, Funny)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767346)

Tin foil hat should be enough

Re:A question: (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768852)

Whoa! Good thing I have several!

Re:A question: (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38776469)

Just make sure it's *tin* and *not*aluminum*.

Re:A question: (3, Insightful)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767398)

What makes for a good shielding for home electronics on such matters? Lead sheets?

Lead sheets crumble and make a mess, and probably won't do you much good. I think a Faraday cage [wikipedia.org] is what you are looking for.

Re:A question: (1)

willaien (2494962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767428)

Tinfoil over your head is a start. Shape it in a hat shape.

Seriously, though, you'd have to build a faraday cage.

Re:A question: (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770082)

Pedantically, though, CMEs cannot directly damage your home electronics.

Re:A question: (2)

celtic_hackr (579828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770912)

Well that depends on your definition of damage.

If you mean it can't permanantly damge the physical structure of your home electronics, then yes.
However, the Earth's protective shield will not stop highly energetic charged particles from entering the atmosphere. It will not stop the above average X-Rays incumbent with SMEs. While An old AT 8086 computer was not likely to be impacted by highly energetic particles smashing through them, the newer much, much more densely packed chips of today have much higher probabilities of have bits randomly flip by these kind of events. Still very highly improbable.

It's very plausible that a large Solar storm could cause you to lose that last half hour's worth of work because you didn't save it regularly.
But as this storm is going to pass "above" the Earth, I'd say we have very little chance of any effect. Unless of course you happen to be in orbit above the pole in a Tardis or Goa'uld ship, or are a spy satellite.

Re:A question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767512)

I recommend having an atmosphere and a planetary magnetic field. Works for me.

Re:A question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767712)

Holy crap, is it Tim Rue? Still psychotic, eh??

Love your 1990s web site! [threeseas.net]

How about some nice Haloperidol with those lead sheets?

Re:A question: (1)

overpar (987020) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770694)

You just need some plasma credits.

Re:A question: (2)

not-my-real-name (193518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38771134)

For electromagnetic shielding, you want something that is highly conductive. Lead is a poor conductor, so it wouldn't be very good (unless you cool it enough to become superconducting). Silver would be good, but is a bit expensive. Copper is almost as good, but still expensive, though not as much as silver. Aluminum is fairly good and readily available. I would suggest wrapping any electronics that you're worried about in aluminum foil.

That said, for this sort of event, just unplugging your electronics or using a good surge suppressor would be adequate.

Re:A question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38775915)

A home microwave oven happens to be a faraday cage, if you are concerned you could put your smartphone and laptop and anything else that may be fragile in your microwave for the duration. Just don't forget and turn it on!

AAAARHHHH (3, Funny)

j35ter (895427) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767322)

We're all gonna die!!!!
*runs to the nearest adult store for shelter*

Re:AAAARHHHH (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767548)

Sooner or later, that will be the case.

Invest in T-Shirts (2)

retroworks (652802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767388)

" I survived the sunspot blob of plasma 2012 "

Re:Invest in T-Shirts (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768874)

And all I got was this lousy plasma burn.

What Happened To My Files? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767424)

I was hosting my data on Sun's cloud!

HA! AT LAST! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767470)

Let's see them blame this one on Obama!

Re:HA! AT LAST! (1)

jcwayne (995747) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767852)

Well he did just sing at the Apollo [nbcnewyork.com] .

I direct your attention to the Absorption Map (3, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767490)

Clearly, Jesus does not like South America, and by implication the pagan parade of sin and debauchery that is Carnivale. Repent!

Pat Robertson

Re:I direct your attention to the Absorption Map (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767836)

Funny, but this is obviously the work of the Egyptian God Ra.

Re:I direct your attention to the Absorption Map (1)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768008)

Clearly, Jesus does not like South America, and by implication the pagan parade of sin and debauchery that is Carnivale. Repent!

Jesus doesn't like vampires, but vampires like pagan parades and sin.

Rob Pattinson

Re:I direct your attention to the Absorption Map (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38772536)

Clearly, Jesus does not like South America,

Being in So.Cal, I asked my neighbor, Jesus Hernandez, if that was true. He said he only went there for a short trip once, but he liked South America just fine.

The upside (5, Interesting)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767624)

I think the upside to this is stated at the end of TFA:

Besides sparking pretty auroras, heightened solar activity has a more tangible benefit: It cleans up space junk. As the sun acts up, the Earth’s atmosphere expands, increasing friction on dead satellites, rocket parts and other trash in low Earth orbit, pulling them down.

The amount of debris in Earth orbit “actually decreased during 2011 as solar activity increased toward an anticipated maximum,” NASA’s chief space junk watcher, Nicholas Johnson, wrote in the January issue of the agency’s Orbital Debris Quarterly Newsletter.

Re:The upside (1)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767968)

Ha! Now that's a technique for clearing up space junk that I haven't heard proposed before: Induce CMEs in the sun!

Somebody get to work on that. Preferably someone who isn't by appearance or name obviously a mad scientist.

Re:The upside (1)

celtic_hackr (579828) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770948)

But everyone knows mad scientists make the coolest technology devices.

Admit it, you'd love to have some of those evil scientist toys.

Glancing blow only (1)

TheSync (5291) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767734)

From http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ [noaa.gov]

"2012-01-20 16:35 G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm Possible January 23

SWPC Forecasters have determined that the CME from NOAA Region 1402 near disk center yesterday will likely pass above (north) of Earth. This glancing blow will cause just G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity. Look for the first signs of it around 1800Z (1:00 pm EST) on Sunday, January 22, with the bulk of the disturbance to occur Monday, January 23."

unit conversion (4, Informative)

ThePeices (635180) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767742)

For those that need to know, that plasma cloud is travelling at almost 5.7 billion furlongs/fortnight.

Re:unit conversion (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38768184)

Humans are extremely poor at judging anything much larger than themselves. That number up there means nothing to me just as much as 3.219 million km/h does... So if that response was a personal issue you're dealing with because miles hurt your brain one day, I feel for ya.

Re:unit conversion (1)

BluBrick (1924) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768476)

We seem to have discovered another AC who needs to hand in his geek card.

Re:unit conversion (0)

Thaedron (1907794) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768372)

LOL... On what plant / alien world is furlongs/fortnight a relevant or commonly used measure of velocity?

Re:unit conversion (1)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768904)

Could you put that in terms of femtocubits per lakh?

Re:unit conversion (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38770120)

thumper/~ units
2684 units, 85 prefixes, 64 nonlinear units

You have: lakh
Unknown unit 'lakh'

Re:unit conversion (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38772688)

Unknown unit 'lakh'

It's a dimensionless quantity that's equal to 100k.

GP is indeed ignorant, as he was asking for a velocity expressed without any time units involved. That won't ever work.

Re:unit conversion (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38775650)

0.0001 C

Re:unit conversion (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38775668)

c is planck unit of velocity, by the way.

study of energy transfer (2)

phrostie (121428) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767822)

I know our magnetic field protects us from the radiation, but has there been a study to see if and how much energy from the flares and CMEs gets converted into heat?

Re:study of energy transfer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38768524)

Well you hear about the link between sunspots and climate*, and sunspots are associated with solar flares, coronal mass ejections, etc.

So probably.

*I.e., there is less sunspot activity now, so we should be in a somewhat cold period.

The accuracy of it all... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38767880)

It's amazing that the Sun can hit us so often... I think it hates us

think of the upside (1)

ozduo (2043408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38767898)

At least this will give Hollywood some new script material instead of remaking classics into shockers. I.E. Chuck Norris kicks the solar storm's butt, would be an instant classic!!

Oh noes kangaroo!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38768590)

So much for tuning into radio Australia on the HF this weekend :(

Oracle at fault again (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 2 years ago | (#38768854)

Since the Oracle take over, it seems all Sun's products have been degraded. The likely consequences of allowing Oracle monopoly control of Sun were clear from the beginning. The interference with Java, OpenOffice and MySQL was bad enough, but they are now allowing Sun to emit dangerous plasma clouds. When are the responsible authorities going to take action to prevent Oracle from inconveniencing us all in this way.

Re:Oracle at fault again (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38775702)

Ellison's brain plasma clouds (colloquially known as brain farts) get bigger and louder, but they do no more harm now than they ever did

That's a lot of fast! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38769616)

So, 2 million fast * 2 = 4 million fast?

Rimshot? Anyone? (2)

Cazekiel (1417893) | more than 2 years ago | (#38771826)

Imma get a big jar and scoop it up to sell to a blood bank. I'm either hilarious, or I really, really need to go to bed.

Forget FB, what about the playoffs? (1)

cellocgw (617879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38773588)

If TV transmissions are interrupted during the NFL playoffs, I predict massive suicides and/or increases in alcohol consumption across the USA.

Charged gas? (2)

lee1 (219161) | more than 2 years ago | (#38773596)

A solar physics expert will please correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe CMEs are made of neutral plasma. I don't know where the original article got the " charged gas" description. They are magnetized, like the solar wind, which is why they interact with the earth's magnetic field

Tech terms or science terms? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38776173)

At first I assumed "Sunspot" and "Plasma cloud" were open-source projects I had never heard of, making the headline tough to parse. Turns out I wasn't far off: Sun SPOT is a wireless sensor network by Sun Microsystems, and "plasma cloud" can refer to a type of fractal algorithm. The practice of naming tech projects after cool science things is reaching a very confusing level, especially for sites like Slashdot that feature both types of news.

Cheap solar flare detector? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38776499)

OK, I know radios can detect lightning bursts. But is there a cheap, easy, interesting, and effective way to detect solar plasma hitting the Earth's atmosphere? I don't have the budget of ARPA or NSA so cheap, ACAT. Any good recommendations out there?

If so it it would also make a great HS science toy as well.

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