NASA SCIENTISTS are worried that the sun is getting ready to turn all our WiFi networks and communications satellites into something similar to early versions of oven fries.
Richard Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics Division has gotten all prophetic and dashed out a press release in the style of a 2012 looney.
He said that the sun is waking up from a deep slumber and in the next few years we expect to see much higher levels of solar activity. But at the same time our technological society has developed an unprecedented sensitivity to solar storms.
Smart power grids, GPS navigation, air travel, financial services and emergency radio communications can all be knocked out by intense solar activity. A century-class solar storm, he warned, could cause twenty times more economic damage than Hurricane Katrina.
Most of the damage can be avoided if managers know a storm is coming. They can put satellites in 'safe mode' and disconnecting transformers can protect these assets from damaging electrical surges.
At the moment though accurate forecasting of solar storms is still at the "what hurricane?" level of evolution.
Thomas Bogdan, director of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado said that weather forecasting is still in its infancy, but "we're making rapid progress".
In the meantime it might be a good idea to liberally rub sun screen into your WiFi box, and maybe pick up an electrical generator for emergencies. µ
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