Jun 15th 2010 By Oliver Jones
Every so often we hear one of these end-of-the-world stories. There's a meteor that's going to hit the earth, or the sun's going to lose its gravitational pull. And generally we can ignore them because they're the calculator speculations of some shed-scientist crackpot.
Today we heard another: The earth is going to be hit by a barrage of solar flares
in 2013 when the sun's
magnetic energy cycle coincides with its 11-year peak in super-powered-sunspot activity -- but this time it wasn't a maverick amateur making the predictions. It was freakin' NASA.
We think the word you're looking for is "yikes."
The once-in-a-generation occurrence has gone broadly unnoticed in the past but has the potential to destroy all the computer systems on which our modern world relies: Bank accounts, medical records, business records, entire websites and, yes, your Facebook account could all disappear.
The solar flares generate massive shifts in magnetic activity, which could potentially lead to blackouts, communications failing, TV and radio networks disappearing and, worst of all, the Internet and all its awesome websites (like Asylum) vanishing.
Dr. Richard Fisher, head of NASA's Heliophysics
Division said, "We know it's coming but we don't know how bad it's going to be.
"Systems will just not work. The flares rapidly change the magnetic field on the earth, like a lightning bolt. That is the solar effect."
Professor Richard Harrison of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire told the U.K.'s Metro, "The sun is now waking up. It's been very inactive, but there's a lot of debate about how dramatic its waking up will be. It's not scaremongering."
We're sure it's not, Richard. Frankly, we're going to start stockpiling now.