December 30, 2012

Solars storms & the power grid

Sun Storm, an episode of the Curiosity series on Discovery TV premiered Sunday, December 30, 2012. The full episode should eventually be online, but it's worth catching it now if you can. The particle effects are nice, but no background info was available from producer Big Wave Productions.

In addition to introducing the science of the sun, the show discusses how "a massive solar super-storm could knock out the power grid for weeks or even many months, destroying the technology that powers our civilization, from communications to banking to our water supply." Food supplies could be effected quickly, and in a massive way too. It appears our definitions of security could use revamping, and our forces redeployed in part.

A society with this much talent should move away from Brittle Power (noted decades ago by Amory Lovins) to more resilient systems. Even established economists are slowly coming around; see for example Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2013 (noted by @resilienceSci). Here's Reinvent Fire: Change Energy Use Forever from Lovins' group RMI:

For more on solar storms, see the Sun Storm FAQ; also, Sun Storm host astronomer Phil Plait shares some background on The issue was part of the 2012 disaster meme, so you can also check out Solar storm passes without incident (a 'wake-up call') at the BBC, Solar Flare: What If Biggest Known Sun Storm Hit Today? at National Geopgraphic, and NASA or NOAA.

Here's another preview of Sun Storm:

More than 10,000 magnetic super tornadoes -- each as large as a continent on Earth -- are now thought to storm across the sun's surface at any moment, according to an international team reporting in Nature. Below is a visualization of a solar super tornadoes, and We Are Sitting Ducks for Solar Flares by Dr. Michio Kaku.

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