Wednesday, May 18, 2005

MAJOR SOLAR STORM HITS EARTH--no mention in the news

The thing that keeps us alive. The thing that makes existence possible. The most powerful force in our lives. That which utterly dominates us. Spits out a huge splat of energy causing major problems and dangers gets near zero press coverage.

This utterly and totally baffles us. We can't understand why this is so. Why did the dying Pope hog all the news all the time only to be replaced with a fog brained blonde runaway bride and this gets virtually no attention?
A major electromagnetic storm from a solar flare reached Earth Monday, causing power distribution, cell phone outages and other problems.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters in Boulder, Colo., observed the eruption of the geomagnetic storm Sunday and classified it as an extreme event.

Forecasters said the event measured at the highest level on the NOAA Space Weather Scales.

Um, this is more than just getting a sunburn.
"The scale ranges from 0 to 9, with 9 being the highest. This was a significant event."

Such a geomagnetic storm might result in widespread power system voltage control problems on Earth, while some electrical grid systems might experience a complete collapse or blackouts, according to NOAA.

In addition, transformers could be damaged, while satellite and spacecraft operations might experience extensive surface charging.

All about the solar minimum and maximum
There's nothing mythical about "Solar Max." During the most recent episode in 2000 and 2001, sky watchers saw auroras as far south as Mexico and Florida; astronomers marveled at the huge sunspots; satellite operators and power companies struggled with outages.

Now the sun is approaching the opposite extreme of its activity cycle, solar minimum, due in 2006. We can relax because, around solar minimum, the sun is quiet. Right?

"That's the myth," says solar physicist David Hathaway of the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. The truth is, solar activity never stops, "not even during solar minimum."

Ever think about the star called the sun? Scientists spend an awful amount of energy pretending the sun is safe and friendly and won't drastically change anything soon. "Middle aged" is how they call our sun.

We don't have a clue. My parents, who have studied the sun for many decades, who helped get the first major solar observatory, the McMath Solar Observatory, built on Kitt Peak, tried recently to get major scientific publications to sponsor their latest paper: "Is the Sun a Variable Star?" To a layman, that means little, to astronomers, this rings alarm bells. You see, a "variable sun" is one that is going to implode and go nova....give or take a million years. No one wanted to publish it. One major magazine said, "No one is really interested in this topic".

Knock me over with a nova. Huh? I would say, drop everything, where is my interstellar rocket!

Actually, this is what I said.

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