Skip to comments.Sun's Plasma Balls Could Wipe Out Human Civilization....
Posted on 10/14/2009 8:32:04 PM PDT by TaraP
Natural fluctuations in the sun's atmosphere could cause it to fire a giant plasma ball at Earth, shutting down the planet's electric grids and leading to widespread social collapse, according to a report from the U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Funded by NASA, the report draws attention to naturally occurring events known as coronal mass ejections (CME), in which a ball of plasma -- the charged, high-energy particles that comprise stars -- is fired from the sun. If such a ball strikes the Earth, it could produce rapid changes in the planet's magnetic field, leading to a surge of direct current in the long-range power lines that carry electricity through modern power grids.
Modern power grids are designed to carry electricity at extremely high voltage, making them especially susceptible to this kind of magnetic disruption. What they are not designed to do, however, is carry direct current. Transformers are particularly vulnerable, and sudden influx of direct current could cause the wiring inside the devices to melt. The NAS report estimates that within 90 seconds of a plasma ball hitting the Earth's magnetic field, power would be knocked out to 130 million people in the United States alone. The same effect is likely throughout the world.
A really large storm could be a planetary disaster," said power industry analyst John Kappenman.
In the First World, where everything from transportation to food and water distribution depends on electricity, this could create a humanitarian catastrophe.
"It's just the opposite of how we usually think of natural disasters," Kappenman said. "Usually the less developed regions of the world are most vulnerable, not the highly sophisticated technological regions."
According to the report, potable water would be one of the first losses in the event of such a disaster. Because water pumping relies on electricity, people would have access to tap water only for about half a day, until the amount already in the system ran out. High-rises, which rely on water being pumped to upper floors, would lose water immediately.
All electric-powered transport would stop at once, and automobiles could only run until they ran out of gas, since the pumps at gas stations also rely on electricity. This would quickly cause the shelves at stores to run bare, since the modern "just-in-time" delivery method relies on restocking shelves as they run out, with minimal storage inside shops themselves.
Backup generators at places like hospitals could only run until they ran out of fuel. According to the report, this translates into 72 hours of minimal care for only the most vulnerable patients. The absence of refrigeration would cause food and many prescription drugs to quickly spoil.
The NAS report notes that a technological meltdown on this scale might be impossible to undo. Pumping natural gas or oil requires electricity, and modern transport networks are required to keep coal plants supplied. Nuclear power plants automatically shut down if the power grid fails, and cannot be turned back on until the grid is back to normal. Very few spare transformers exist, meaning that new ones would need to be manufactured to replace most of the burned-out ones. Again, the lack of industrial infrastructure would make this a major challenge.
"We're moving closer and closer to the edge of a possible disaster," said Daniel Baker, chair of the committee that produced the report.
Although the scenario may sound fantastic and unlikely, scientists warn that there have been precedents. In 1859, a CME known as the Carrington event produced auroras as far south as the equator and caused severe disruptions to the world's telegraph systems. In 1989, a direct current overload in the power grid cut off electricity to 6 million people in Quebec province, Canada. And in 2006, a fluctuation in a small part of Germany's power grid caused a cascading power failure through the wider European grid.
I wish I’d thought of that!
This would consist of what, helium? Is there some way of telling if such a blast has been in earth’s past?
Now that’s global warming I could believe in.
The engineer in me wants to know how much time there would be between noticing such a flare heading Earth’s way and its actual strike. And how a space ship could be scrambled on such short notice.
Was the space ship a government secret?
While ending once & for all the bullshit GloBull Warming crap, sending AlBore to the unemployment line.
Sounds like a happy ending to a fairy tale, doesn't it. LOL
"Funded by NASA..."
Good grief, the pandering's become so painfully obvious.
It is so easy to make fun of someone for being concerned about a possible disaster down the road...because, after all, such things happen so very rarely.
Except that IF this one happens, our highly technological, highly inter-dependent society will be destroyed. For lack of a few thousand transformers.
Oh, it DIDN’T happen before - the 1859 Carrington Event did occur, of course, but what kind of electrical infrastructure did we or anyone else have then? So a few telegraph systems - steam powered, mind you - went down for a while. They produced food the old fashioned way, with horses and plows - no electricity required. They pumped water manually (or with steam engines - rather robust in comparison to ultra-miniaturized microcircuits, wouldn’t you say?), and medical care sucked anyway (but did so without electricity or medications that needed to be refrigerated). In other words, people 150 years ago knew how to live in what we consider primitive conditions. We don’t, and even if we did, such technology wouldn’t support our population.
Look, we are 300 million in this nation, 6+ billion worldwide. Those figures (or anything close to it) are ONLY possible because of mass electrification, mass use of petrochemicals, mass use of fertilizers, etc. It is an extraordinarily complex machine, but not very robust compared to either a Carrington-type event or an EMP.
All we need to do is have some equipment in reserve, and a plan, and it won’t be a megadisaster, merely a disaster on the scale of several simultaneous Katrinas (which would be bad enough, to be sure, but our nation would survive). The cost would be far, far less than 1/10 that of the so-called stimulus bill, and would actually create jobs here.
But let’s ridicule the article, let’s not take a potentially civilization-busting event and turn it into a SNL skit.
BTW, I stand to make exactly nothing from any of the steps necessary to preserve civilization from this event - I’m not in any related business, nor is anyone in my family. This is just common sense, to invest a little in true disaster insurance - kind of like looking for Earth-busting asteroids. Very low probability, but extraordinarily high loss events, to be sure...but that’s not a gamble I wish to take.
And the meek shall inherit...(those who aren't dependent on the electric wire going to the road - without which you can't even flush.)
Maybe man's just got things screwed up beyond fixing and God ain't gonna let it keep going in this direction. Maybe He'll remind us who the REAL ‘World Leader’ is.
The Mayan Calendar and it's 21 Dec 2012 date does NOT spell the end of the world or everyone dying - but it is supposed to be the beginning of a new era.
Can't says as a screeching halt to the total domination plans of world leaders these days would be a bad thing. Just don't get caught in the cities - or close by - during the transition...
Guess we better raise taxes so we can extinguish the sun.
Sorry, I wasn’t clear. But no.
They were “aliens” — spirit like and quasi-angelic (disguised as people).
Who’s giving a cr*p about the “Mayan calendar.” To me that’s sorcery. Pay attention to the real time details of the devil and he will mess with your mind. God is more powerful but your focus has to be towards God (such as through the bible) for God to be ruling your mind. God if neglected is not going to stuff himself down your throat.
“Wif all dis shakin and quakin goin on up dair, I’m frankly worried about the flag our Asternauts planted on the sun back in the 60’s. Do you think them plasmer balls woulda knocked it over?”
Sheila Jackson Lee
I like cheese.
About 7 minutes.
What, giant Matzoh Balls coming from space?
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Sun's Plasma Balls Could Wipe Out Human Civilization....
It falls in the category of:
Asteroids / killer comets
Giant Tsunamis / global warming
California sliding off into the ocean
Pandemic flu / killer virus
Gamma ray bursts
Invasion by aliens
Sudden Ice age
Look, there are always things that can might could possibly some time in the future, destroy civilization. The best that you can do for you and your family is to 1) have a reasonably secure location, 2) be able to defend that location, 3) be able to sustain yourself and your family for any non-life threatening injuries, 4) be prepared for water shortages via filtration / storage, 5) be prepared for food shortages, and 6) be prepared to “bug out” to an alternate location.
This is standard urban / modern survival. I’ve been prepared for a number of years now and continue to improve my situation.
If the transformers are the points of failure, it would seem that some engineering would be in order, so as to tolerate events like this by cutting out until the electromagnetic environment becomes safe again. At least the flares are not threatening to do what a man made EMP would.
This thread should be labeled "NASA budget season alert."
Every political empire exaggerates their own importance when trolling for money, but NASA consistently takes it to wonderful comical lengths. Space is cool and beautiful, but unfortunately for NASA, things just orbit around each other without much human intervention required, as they have done for ages.
So recognizing they have their work cut out for them, NASA budget season has gradually become worthy of Hollywood special effects. One year, we need a network of space based defenses to annihilate asteroids coming to earth, next year global warming will pounce if we don't launch climate studying satellites, and now we learn that the sun will shoot plasma balls at us if we don't spend enough money to protect ourselves.
IIRC that’s less than the amount of time it would take light to traverse from the sun to the earth. Such a blast would be stupendous, but it canna change the laws of physics!
I wish a couple Republicans had some plasma balls.
You know folks, this is just a blatant attempt to mess with the mentally feeble. What’s going on here? I swear it looks like an attempt to scare people into some kind of reaction.
I should have said 8 minutes...But it would depend on where out tiny planet was located at the time.
Who’s the culprit and why?
I believe the gov't does have...in case of an electro magnetic attack -
But we folk should have at least rudimentary supplies at home.
I grew up on a farm in the north woods where people lived without power.'
WE heated with wood, hot water in the tank on the side of the stove, water pump on the sink, kerosene lamps at night.
A year's supply of food on hand - in the gardens, cold cellars, canning jars - meat in the woods and the barn; milk and butter from the cows; chicken and eggs in the coop; fish in waters.
It was a great life.
FAst forward a few decades and different place.
During the '100 year Ice Storm' of 1998, I was without electricity for 19 days. Most people had to go to motels or other shelters. I was able to stay home as I have a wood stove and lamps, providing heat, a way to cook and heat water, and I have my kerosene lamps.
The worst part was having to haul water from the fire station...I longed for the old farm and the water pump.
I could go back to those days in a heartbeat - except I'd want my tub and hot water spigot - and my 'puter. Don't need a TV - hardly ever watch it now.
But people are way too complacent - 'it'll never happen to me' attitude is going to catch a lot people with their pants down one day.
Holy relativistic velocities, Batman!
I’d quibble that it was more like 1/3 the speed of light, because it took 8 minutes to be seen as happening on the sun’s surface, then another 15 minutes to get here. So after that first 8 minutes it was about a third of the way here.
And why is Cage always so *creepy*?
My thought is that on the face of it, this hasn’t happened before. Why would someone just throw this out there? It’s just one more thing for brittle people to obsess over.
Over the last few years, I have noticed a number of articles heralding what could possibly happen, even if the chances of it happening were almost infinitesimal.
Some of the programming on the cable channels fits this description well. One of my favorites is the new fascination with December 21st, 2012.
Why do they play this stuff up.
I know this doesn’t answer your question. It’s just what occurs to me. I think it’s a valid observation.
I agree with your comments. I spent about 12 years on a 120 acre farm in the middle of no-where Missouri as a kid.
I could survive in that environment if I had to.
You are right that people are complacent. I know I am more than I should be.
Why has the discoveries of science always awed mankind? Especially when it talks of things that overwhelm our wee powers?
I guess the answer would be similar to why do people like to get frights at Halloween?
Hunger for the transcendent in the absence of a God faith, maybe....
Yes - about 7 minutes. But - I wish it could be like that Twilight Zone episode where the Sun goes and the guy (Merideth Burgess??) figures it out while it is still night in Manhatten. He has the rest of the night to set things right - and finally gets the gumption to ask the girl out on a date and they spend the evening together before the dawn brings them around to the exploding Sun.
Alas - like most catastrophic things - you won’t have time to prepare and it will be in an instant. So, remember to give your loved ones an extra hug and a kiss each time.
Donate all of your money to the Dimwit party now or the big balls will get you!
Apparently the plasma travels far slower than light, so we’d have many hours of warning. Shutting down the grid for a number of hours, even days, would be very inconvenient (and a bit expensive - think about lost food, etc.), but you’d be able to start it up again and fix the damage. But we’d still need spare parts, a coherent plan and spare food and water available.
EMP would be a real killer - no warning, and a far more harmful pulse of energy. Much of the planning would protect against both events, and not be too expensive (at least not compared to bailing out corrupt investment bankers).
Possibly enough to crash this extremely complex machine we've created for our comfort and convenience. I just hope the damned thing never happens, but hope ain't a plan.
Could be. There is a fascination with it though, no doubt about it.
I don’t see this report to be way way out. I just question the wisdom of putting it out there for people to ruminate over.
In an age when people go postal for little or no reason, it doesn’t seem like it would be all that hard for folks to realize it’s just not a good idea to push some people’s buttons like this.
I had a friend back in the 1980s, that heard that the planets were going to line up in the early 1990s, and they were sure the world was coming to an end. He obsessed over this for a decade. He really was afraid of this event. I think it sent him over the edge to the point where he wouldn’t make plans and move on with his life. It was a strange thing to be sure.
Clearly we have polluted the sun. SAVE THE SUN!!!!!!!!
Nice thing about FR is you can always scroll past the things that tempt you to put your tinfoil hat on.
Well where's the fun in that?
LOL, true. I don’t mind reading this stuff myself, but I do realize there are people out there who shouldn’t be reading some of it. You take care.
What if we discovered that dumping a sufficiently sized object into the sun could provoke such a flare, and in a somewhat controllable way?
Now we would be speculating about sun wars.
Jesus Christ is the answer, but first people have to grasp the question. Or like the old Baptist preacher said, you have to get them lost before you can get them saved. Unless you know you’re wounded or broken you have no desire to be healed or mended. Stuff like this could provoke evil or good. I personally wouldn’t go around blaring such stories to people myself, but if God is omnipotent then it’s trivial for him to work this too to his ends.
I love a good science thread. Thanks!
Excellent synopsis. But you forgot to mention that the fireball is ALWAYS going to hit us 25 or 30 years in the future and an endless stream of research grants is required to further study the problem. Each research project will end with the conclusion that the problem is STILL 25 to 30 years away and another research project is urgently needed to further study the problem.
I disagree. Usually we get about 2 days warning that a CME is on the way. We should be able to stockpile food and fuel and shut down the electrical grid for the day that it hits. Everything would have to be off and it should survive as long as it is not connected to ground.
This should be no big deal. I am not an EE, but I do have a masters in physics and I also stayed at a Holiday inn last night.
Eh, it happens.