The internet could be disrupted for months by a coming ‘solar superstorm’.
A solar storm 93 million miles away could cause an ‘internet apocalypse’ which knocks people offline for months according to recent findings.
Assistant professor Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi of the University of California Irvine presented the research at the Association for Computing Machinery annual conference earlier this year, the New York Post reports.
The report warned that a solar ‘superstorm’ could ’cause large-scale Internet outages covering the entire globe and lasting several months’, posing a risk to the entire world.
Here’s the sciency bit. The Earth’s magnetic protects us from the constant bombardment of solar radiation we get from the sun called solar wind.
It deflects the solar wind towards the planet’s poles, creating auroras such as the Northern Lights which have no harmful impact on the world below and have the added bonus of looking really nice.
However, once every 80 to 100 years the sun’s natural life cycle produces a solar superstorm strong enough to get through the Earth’s natural barrier and wreak havoc on anything electromagnetic.
The last time this happened on May 15, 1921, it caused fires and equipment failures in electricity and telegraph control rooms across the world that damaged what was cutting edge technology at the time.
These days a huge amount of the world depends on electromagnetic devices, a solar superstorm putting them out of commission could take down the internet and wreck communication infrastructure across the globe.
According to The Independent this is potentially a once in a century event that could pose a serious threat a modern world which is so reliant on technology.
In addition to potentially putting the internet out of commission for a while, a solar superstorm could also lead to power outages as power grids are shut down.
Fortunately, Dr Mike Hapgood has said that in such a situation there ‘won’t be particularly big damage’ as the power grids could be easily switched back on following a blackout.
Dr Hapgood pointed towards the effects of a moderate solar storm that hit Earth in 1989. Disruptions to power in Quebec, Canada, were sorted out after around nine hours, so perhaps any problems would be relatively quick to sort out.
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