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Science

There Will Be No 2012 Killer Solar Flare, Promise

I don’t watch a heap of news, so I was surprised to hear that people are expecting 2012 to end thanks to a massive solar flare as a result of the oncoming solar maximum. Thankfully, even as I heard about it, I was reliably informed by scientists from NASA that such an event is a ‘physical impossibility’.

No Killer Solar Flare for 2012

The threat of a “killer solar flare” as NASA has dubbed the worries is virtually impossible, as NASA scientists note that “there simply isn’t enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth.”

Nice to know, really. Though, you’d wonder at that, considering it’s, well, you know, the sun.

But with the solar cycle ramping up to the latest solar maximum, you have to remember that planet Earth has been enduring these cycles for … ever. In fact, if you’ve over the age of 11, you’ve already lived through such a solar maximum and, well, we’re all still here.

Side note – the conspiracy theorists linking the solar maximum/”killer solar flare” with the end of the Mayan calendar and our impending 2012 doom should have done their research a little better: the maximum isn’t expected to peak until the end of 2013, early 2014.

Now, let’s be fair; space weather can affect our planet. While the heat from a solar flare can’t make it all the way out to us on Earth, the electromagnetic radiation can, and does. Once reaching our atmosphere, the electromagnetic radiation “can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere creating disruptions with signal transmission from, say, a GPS satellite to Earth causing it to be off by many yards.”

Even more disruptive is the possibility of a coronal mass ejection, also known as a CME, clever hey? These solar explosions expel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into our planet’s atmosphere where they can induce electric fluctuations at ground level that might have the power to blow out transformers in power grids.

A CME could also blow out a satellite’s internal workings.

Now sure, this provides a hazard in our very technologically-dependent world, where every other phone has a GPS device and the ability to read a map has suddenly become extinct. But, as NASA notes, “it is a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem. One can protect oneself with advance information and proper precautions.”

NASA, NOAA, and agencies throughout the world provide warnings of impending CME’s or other threats to electric companies, spacecraft operators, and airline pilots, long before they reach Earth, so that something can be done. And while we can always better improve our predicting abilities, and have done so over the past few decades, worrying about “killer solar flares” does nobody any good.

Except for me, the writer, who gets to tell you why you shouldn’t worry about “killer solar flares”.

Source: NASA




9 comments
  1. Nicole Bicole

    Hi I am only 13 so I don’t understand anything too well. People say it’s going to be okay but then I see other things that confuse me that might be bad? I don’t know… Can someone simplify it for me?

  2. datura stramonium

    so tell me, if it can take out parts of the power grid, exactly what do you think will happen when/if one of these things hits directly over U.S. and it takes the power grids out, in how many hours will our reactors melt down just like fukushima? just like a hurricane, nah more like earthquake and tsunami. just how long does it take a reactor to achieve cold shutdown with no water flowing due to a power failure? and what will happen in europe should it happen there? i guess we know what will happen in japan dont we.

  3. Mark Goldes

    The mortal danger is from multiple meltdowns of nuclear plants caused by a solar megastorm.
    See the Aesop Institute website to understand why – and what might be done to prevent the worst.
    The peak threat is estimated to be in 2013 by the NOAA.

  4. Rod

    There NEVER was a claim by any reputable organisation (like NASA) about “killer” solar flares.
    Only the usual crackpot religions and doomsayers in fringe forums said there would be, and they of course get it wrong consistently then disappear from public site out of embarrassment.
    Solar maximum and CMEs are different again and entirely plausible and probable and can cause enormous damage to the modern world technological infrastructure.

  5. Dick Laurent

    The world isn’t going to end in a solar flare bang… that’d be too easy. It’s going to end like most things, painfully slow. Are we not already feeling the effects?

  6. Scott

    Did you know that the earth’s core is estimated to be as hot as the sun, and it is only about 3,000 miles away instead of 93 million miles. If you want to create a more real conspiracy about gloom and doom look down not up. You may also find the real cause of global warming.

  7. JamesYoung

    Wow, first time you’ve heard this? I remember reading about this about six years ago. There is a list of doomsday prophecies from countless religions and cultures each with a handful of probable scenarios. A Solar Flare is not even the most interesting, or most likely. Just type in 2012, weed through the pile of obvious BS, and if you are not left with a feeling that SOMETHING world changing, life altering, is going to happen, then you have not done the research. It’s been happening. All of the Extreme Weather events, the Arab Spring, the Occupy WS, the search for Aliens, the Discovery of microbial life on mars, the reversal of polarities on the electric grid, Super volcano.. the list goes on. Some more probable than others.

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