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super douper solar flares

11 May 2015

At www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2015/05/05/scientis… …. at what is called the Space Weather Workshop which took place in Boulder, Colorado, sponsored by NOAA and NASA, there was a presentation on the possibility of super solar flares – one thousand times more energetic than anything seen in the last 100 years.

The worry appears to be the effects of a plasma storm on the numerous satellites orbiting the Earth and the telecommunications networks that rely on them (and computer files stored in digital format).

Super flares take place on other stars – observed by NASAs Kepler Mission (launched in 2009). Hence, there is an intrinsic reason why a super flare might occur in our solar system. The Carrington flare of 1859 produced aurora phenomena visible as far south as Cuba and El Salvador. These people are talking about flares many times more powerful than the Carrington event. Sounds like another doomsaying story is looming on the horizon – but am I being cynical.

In a list of things affected by a super douper solar flare are blackouts – as grids would be taken out all across the world. Airplane passengers might be affected by radiation, there would be ozone depletion (so they really do know what causes the ozone hole but choose not to correct the environmentalist lobby) and nuclear power stations – severing the electrics would cause them to quickly go into meltdown. Seems like nuclear is more dangerous than we know – as a Carrington size flare could potentially have a similar affect.See also a transcript of a talk given – at www.swpc.noaa.gov/sites/default/files/images/u33/final_shibata_SWW_2015.pdf

Those interested in exploring what our forebears may have understand about these matters there is a book illustration  taken from the 'Chronicles of John of Worcester' (1128AD) which shows sun spots on the face of the Sun which depict penumbra around each of the spots (reproduced from RW Southern, Medieval Humanism, Harper and Row:1970

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