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Heavy-Handed Politics

"€œGod willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world
without the United States and Zionism."€ -- Iran President Ahmadi-Nejad

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Cell Phones to be TKO'd by Solar Flares?

In a few short years solar flares could knock out cell phones.

A flare is defined as a sudden, rapid, and intense variation in brightness. A solar flare occurs when magnetic energy that has built up in the solar atmosphere is suddenly released.1

These flares travel at very high speeds and can reach the earth in just a matter of hours carrying high amounts of energy. Solar flare activity will be building to an apex in 2010.

Ok, but what is a CME? To answer this, let's visit the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.
"Without warning, the relatively calm solar atmosphere can be torn asunder by sudden outbursts of a scale unknown on Earth. Catastrophic events of incredible energy...stretch up to halfway across the visible solar surface, suddenly and unpredictably open up and expel their contents, defying the Sun's enormous gravity." (Sun, Earth, and Sky by Kenneth R. Lang)

These catastrophic events that the author is speaking about are coronal mass ejections (CME's).

Coronal mass ejections are explosions in the Sun's corona that spew out solar particles. A lot of material is thrown out into the solar wind. Coronal mass ejections can be dangerous when they hit the Earth.

CME's can seriously disrupt the Earth's environment. Intense radiation from the Sun, which arrives only 8 minutes after being released, can alter the Earth's outer atmosphere, disrupting long-distance radio communications. Very energetic particles pushed along by the shock wave of the CME can endanger astronauts or fry satellite electronics. These energetic particles arrive at the Earth (or Moon) about an hour later. The actual coronal mass ejection arrives at the Earth one to four days after the initial eruption, resulting in strong geomagnetic storms, aurorae and electrical power blackouts.

Coronal mass ejections will become more and more frequent as we near solar maximum. CME's, not discovered until the 1970's, are difficult to detect. That is why we need satellites such as the ACE satellite which acts as a spaceweather station while in orbit. ACE can provide a one-hour advance warning of any geomagnetic storms that would affect the Earth.

We have seen a rather rapid increase in our dependence on satellites for banking transactions, credit card processing, television, radio as well as our phones. With this increasing dependence on satellites for communication, and let's not forget defense, it does seem a little odd that we have not hearing or reading about this.

Nonetheless, there are some scientists who are expressing that this could have a devastating effect claiming when these flares reach their greatest peak they could cause the downing of mobile phones and GPS navigational systems - a telecommunication blackout.

Says Markus Aschwanden, a solar physicist at the Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center when these solar flares reach their max in 2010:
"These solar flares and Coronoal Mass Ejections from the sun have the ability to travel all the way to the earth and create a black-out of cellular phone services and navigational systems like the GPS.

Because of its ability to cause widespread damage on the Earth, more and more scientists are keen to understand the phenomenon inside the sun which gives rise to such flares.

If a solar flare or a CME collides with the Earth, it can cause a geomagnetic storm. A few years back, these solar flares destroyed the satellite Galaxy 4."

These solar flares run in an eleven year cycle. They are in a constant state of flucuation, yet gradually building until they reach their peak at the end of their cycle.

And that will wrap up our science lesson for today.


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