Thursday, March 08, 2012

Solar storm a dud so far

The media seem to be full of reports on the ongoing solar storm and solar flares and their hypothetical amazing impact on the Earth and its inhabitants.

The hypothetical events we should expect are frequent heart attacks, dysfunctional GPS devices and maybe whole computer networks if not power grids. Wow.

I am no expert in that field but I just don't believe this stuff much.

It is not clear to me whether the remarkable impact on our electric and electronic gadgets is based on something – either some good enough theory or some experience. If you know something about these matters, please let me know. I am just reading that in 1989, a solar storm defeated the grid in Quebec. Is the reason really well-established? Don't get me wrong: I understand that there is some plasma going through space and distorted magnetic fields but do they really detectably impact local physics and technology?

In 1859, there was a solar storm that could have been bigger than the 1989 event. Even if one admits that the solar storms may sometimes cause trouble to the power transmission systems, and not just pretty auroras, I would still find the constant predictions that we're going to see it now to be unsubstantiated. It's still true that the current solar cycle is relatively weak so isn't it sensible to expect weaker solar storms as well? Of course that in recent 3 years, such activity is going up because the solar cycle has been strengthening in the wake of the minimum. But that happens every 11 years or so; one-half of this cycle is dedicated to a strengthening. Not a reason for unprecedented fear.

And the historical data seem to suggest that most of such warnings are ultimately falsified, too.

A good thing about solar storms is that they haven't been proved to be a results of evil capitalists yet. But I am sure that the IPCC is working on this gap in our knowledge, too. ;-)


  1. Love reading ur viewpoint, Lubos. Not much a scientist but thought you'd like a gander at

  2. Hello Lubos, here is an article from IEEE Spectrum:

    Thanks for share your thinking.