2012: Killer solar flares are a physical impossibility

Nov 11, 2011 by Karen C. Fox
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft captured this image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun early on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2003. This was the most powerful flare measured with modern methods. Credit: NASA/SOHO

(PhysOrg.com) -- Given a legitimate need to protect Earth from the most intense forms of space weather – great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles that can sometimes stream from the sun – some people worry that a gigantic "killer solar flare" could hurl enough energy to destroy Earth. Citing the accurate fact that solar activity is currently ramping up in its standard 11-year cycle, there are those who believe that 2012 could be coincident with such a flare.

But this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia. Anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm. In addition, the next solar maximum is predicted to occur in late 2013 or early 2014, not 2012.

Most importantly, however, there simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth.

This is not to say that can't affect our planet. The explosive heat of a solar flare can't make it all the way to our globe, but electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can. 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. Another phenomenon produced by the sun could be even more disruptive. Known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), these solar explosions propel bursts of particles and electromagnetic fluctuations into Earth's atmosphere. Those fluctuations could induce electric fluctuations at ground level that could blow out transformers in power grids. The CME's particles can also collide with crucial electronics onboard a satellite and disrupt its systems.

In an increasingly technological world, where almost everyone relies on cell phones and GPS controls not just your in-car map system, but also airplane navigation and the extremely accurate clocks that govern financial transactions, space weather is a serious matter.

But it is a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem. One can protect oneself with advance information and proper precautions. During a hurricane watch, a homeowner can stay put . . . or he can seal up the house, turn off the electronics and get out of the way. Similarly, scientists at NASA and NOAA give warnings to electric companies, spacecraft operators, and airline pilots before a CME comes to Earth so that these groups can take proper precautions. Improving these predictive abilities the same way weather prediction has improved over the last few decades is one of the reasons NASA studies the sun and space weather. We can't ignore space weather, but we can take appropriate measures to protect ourselves.

And, even at their worst, the sun's flares are not physically capable of destroying .

Explore further: Suddenly, the sun is eerily quiet: Where did the sunspots go?

More information: For more information concerning 2012, visit
2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End? www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html

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User comments : 27

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omatumr
Nov 11, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
ArtflDgr
1.8 / 5 (10) Nov 11, 2011
been ramping up since it hasnt ramped up..
you know, eventually they will be right if they just keep saying it and time passes... but thats not the same as actually knowing... is it?
NameIsNotNick
3.4 / 5 (7) Nov 11, 2011
"Most importantly, however, there simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth."
This is a very odd statement and untrue. While there is no known mechanism for it do so, it's not a question of insufficient energy being available. Later he repeats the claim for flares, and perhaps that is what he meant.
MaxwellsDemon
3.9 / 5 (7) Nov 11, 2011
Well gosh. I guess that leaves the door wide open for some crafty opportunist to publish an entirely new Doomsday scenario for people to get hysterical over: cha-ching!
Callippo
1.4 / 5 (11) Nov 11, 2011
Such flare is as physically impossible, as the cold fusion by mainstream science.
Callippo
1 / 5 (14) Nov 11, 2011
BTW The 2012 catastrophic movie was claimed as the most absurd science-fiction film of all time.

http://www.guardi...-fiction

Whereas in my opinion just the main physical mechanism presented in this movie (i.e. the neutrinos melting Earth core) is perfectly reasonable scientifically and responsible for both global warming, both fluctuations of solar activity and geovolcanic activity.

So I'm a bit skeptical, when I'm reading about "physical impossibility" of some phenomena. For example, if the Earth would appear at the center of magnetic reconnection of particularly intensive solar flare heading just toward Earth, it could make serious trouble for contemporary technology, relying on stability of power line grid.

Btw it's just another reason for implementation of cold fusion, because it would enable to decentralize the grid.
omatumr
1.5 / 5 (18) Nov 11, 2011
"there simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth."

. . . a very odd statement and untrue.


Untrue, . . . but not odd in government propaganda.

After Climategate e-mails revealed deception in the AGW story promoted by Al Gore, world leaders, and the UN:

http://joannenova...imeline/

Flaws were not corrected in government and UN's reports:

www.ipcc.ch/publi...ts.shtml

1. "Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate", JFE 21, 193-198 (2002)

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

2. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", E&E 20, 131-144 (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

3. "A shared frequency set between the historical mid-latitude aurora records and the global surface temperature," J Atmos Solar-Terr Physics, in press (2011)

www.sciencedirect...11002872
antialias_physorg
4.1 / 5 (9) Nov 11, 2011
BTW The 2012 catastrophic movie was claimed as the most absurd science-fiction film of all time.

Article has been taken down. It seems to be a hoax.

But to make up for this I nominate omatumr as most absurd NASA scientist of all time.
omatranter
2.7 / 5 (14) Nov 11, 2011
What! I didn't get an invite to this fcuknuckle conference, must be with my Nobel Prize for vaguest delusion

http://www.nasa.g...012.html

Repulsive Neutrons and The Science of Roland Emmerich films, such a nice fit, and with him being an Aryan Illuminati for making the Day after Tomorrow.
Well I'm off to grow some dinosaurs with using mosquitoes trapped in amber and make some Ice9, need a cool refreshing drink.
Silverhill
5 / 5 (3) Nov 11, 2011
BTW The 2012 catastrophic movie was claimed as the most absurd science-fiction film of all time.
Article has been taken down. It seems to be a hoax.
Although the 2012 movie is not yet mentioned there, the Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics site is fun to explore for their explanations and dissections of various notable films:
http://www.intuit...physics/
Doug_Huffman
1 / 5 (2) Nov 11, 2011
While there is no known mechanism for it do so, ...
Not Nicholas, how about Nassim Nicholas Taleb? Wrote Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable and illuminated the Ludic Fallacy.
Au-Pu
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 11, 2011
When will the idiots of the world realise that that term cold fusion is an oxymoron.
The sun and the hydrogen bomb are prime examples of the fusion process.
Neither of them are cold.
For once it would be helpful if people were to pause and consider reality for a while rather than race to embrace fantasy .
jsdarkdestruction
4 / 5 (8) Nov 12, 2011
Oliver Manuel's recent efforts to plaster Physorg.com and other public news sites with his theories and personal URLs are a bit puzzling, as scientists have a variety of publications available to communicate directly to each other in. My best guess is that he is desperately trying to prop up his legacy in light of his arrest in his university office on 7 charges of rape and sodomy based on allegations by 4 of his own children. The charges have been reduced to one count of felony attempted sodomy, not necessarily because of his innocence, but because of the statute of limitations. One can only guess how the recent charges and decades of family strife have affected his ability to reason rationally and to remain objective while defending his unpopular theories.

http://www.homefa...uel.html

http://mominer.ms...hildren/
BillFox
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 12, 2011
Everyone here should know by now that a crack pedophile's oppinions don't even hold the slightest validity by now :p
Chromodynamix
3 / 5 (2) Nov 12, 2011
No mention is made of the Carrington Event of 1859.
In scientific circles where solar flares, magnetic storms and other unique solar events are discussed, the occurrences of September 1-2, 1859, are the star stuff of legend. Even 144 years ago, many of Earth's inhabitants realized something momentous had just occurred. Within hours, telegraph wires in both the United States and Europe spontaneously shorted out, causing numerous fires, while the Northern Lights, solar-induced phenomena more closely associated with regions near Earth's North Pole, were documented as far south as Rome, Havana and Hawaii, with similar effects at the South Pole.

http://en.wikiped..._of_1859

A similar event could fry tens of thousands of transformers killing the electrical supply for months due to manufacturing lead times.Without electricity the consequences go without saying.

KBK
3 / 5 (2) Nov 12, 2011
A similar event could fry tens of thousands of transformers killing the electrical supply for months due to manufacturing lead times.Without electricity the consequences go without saying.

~~

Actually the lead time is about 5 years, minimum, to replace a large amount of them.

Which is why such an event is so feared.

There are components of the grid which might be down for even longer.
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (2) Nov 12, 2011
"A similar event could fry tens of thousands of transformers killing the electrical supply for months due to manufacturing lead times.Without electricity the consequences go without saying." - KBK

Yup. No dancing with the stars.
ryggesogn2
1 / 5 (5) Nov 12, 2011
The earth is quite a small target. The ratio of the area of the earth to the area of the earth's orbital sphere is 0.00002126.
A potentially more dangerous event from space is a direct hit from a gamma ray burst. The probability is small, but not zero.
Nik_2213
not rated yet Nov 12, 2011
I don't have the reference, but I've read that power companies installed a lot of extra breakers and ground-current diverters after the Canadian outage. Whether they would withstand a 'black swan' event such as the Carrington flare, I don't know.

My guess is that with such 'space weather' forecast, a lot of suppliers will 'pull the plug' on their extended transmission lines and take the hit of a controlled outage rather than let their nigh-irreplaceable transformers burn to the ground.

A bit like a hurricane watch: Bulletins prepare people for power cuts and other utility outages. Just hope such does not coincide with severe terrestrial weather...
Callippo
1.8 / 5 (5) Nov 12, 2011
The distribution of sunspots is driven with currents of plasma beneath the surface of Sun, which are switching their direction in accordance to location of magnetic poles. The appearance of double ring of sunspots visible at the video presentation is a striking feature, which is similar to double jets of pulsars and black holes. t's not usual for sunspots to appear both bellow, both above equator at the same moment.

What the Sun is trying to do appears like the attempt for formation of pairs of conical jets, which routinely appear during explosions of supernovas, just composed of more lightweight particles, than those which are forming during stellar explosions. Maybe in neutrino telescope the double ring of sunspots would appear like the pair of cones under low angle - the sunspots are just a place, where neutrinos are escaping from solar surface.
Callippo
1 / 5 (3) Nov 12, 2011
The systematic appearance of sunspots at both solar hemispheres at the same period of solar activity would indicate the attempts for switching of plasma regime flow beneath the solar surface from single vortex (which is switching its direction less or more periodically) into pair of more stable antiparallel convective currents divided around equator. It's difficult to estimate, whether such switching would proceed like quiet or rather like some catastrophic event.
Jayded
5 / 5 (4) Nov 13, 2011
Hmm. Some great posts today. Outside of Omatuurs usual rubbish I actually learnt something.
omatumr
1 / 5 (11) Nov 13, 2011
Killer solar flares are a physical impossibility


If the SSM (standard solar model) and AGW (anthropogenic global warming) scams were based on data and observations [1-5] rather than politics [6].

References:

1. Suns motion and sunspots, Astron. J. 70, 193-200 (1965)

2. Prolonged minima and the 179-yr cycle of the solar inertial motion, Solar Physics 110, 191-220 (1987)

3. Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate, JFE 21, 193-198 (2002)

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

4. "Earth's heat source - the Sun, E&E 20, 131-144 (2009)

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

5. Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics, in press (2011)

www.sciencedirect...11002872

6. Climategate e-mails:

http://joannenova...imeline/

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
http://myprofile....anuelo09
MorituriMax
3 / 5 (2) Nov 13, 2011
The earth is quite a small target. The ratio of the area of the earth to the area of the earth's orbital sphere is 0.00002126.
A potentially more dangerous event from space is a direct hit from a gamma ray burst. The probability is small, but not zero.

And yet we regularly get hit by the sun's ejecta. Strange.
omatumr
1 / 5 (9) Nov 13, 2011
If the SSM (standard solar model) and AGW (anthropogenic global warming) scams were based on experimental data and observations [1-5] rather than politics [6].


There would be no need for Congressional hearings tomorrow on the End of Climate Change Skepticism:

http://democrats....162.html

Professor Curry's blog has comments from readers:

http://judithcurr...t-137664

An early commenter notes the end of skepticism is the end of the scientific method.

The Congressional hearing will confirm that AGW is more politics than science - as many folks figured out after the Climagate emails were released.

http://joannenova...imeline/

A sad day for science,
Oliver K. Manuel
Former NASA Principal
Investigator for Apollo
http://myprofile....anuelo09
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2011
"Professor Curry's blog has comments from readers" - OmaTard

Professor Curry's blog has shown that Professor Curry is grossly incompetent.

Baked Curry: The BEST Way to Hide the Incline
http://www.skepti...&p=2
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2011
Hmmm Curry :)
barakn
not rated yet Nov 15, 2011
The earth is quite a small target. The ratio of the area of the earth to the area of the earth's orbital sphere is 0.00002126. -ryggie

This is a completely useless factoid. Each CME tends to subtend the same angle as it explodes outward. It's not quite a hemispherical explosion (2pi steradians) but it's much larger than the angle subtended by the Earth. Thus the size of the Earth is irrelevant - when you're throwing the side of a barn at a ball, it doesn't matter how big the ball is. There's also the fact that CMEs typically originate near sunspots, which themselves are typically confined to within 30 degrees of the solar equator, and that is inclined only 7 degrees or so with respect to the ecliptic. Thus CMEs are more often directed towards Earth than if they were randomly emitted from all over the Sun's surface.