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30th Nov 2023

Scientists predict solar storms are coming that are so powerful they can cripple the internet for weeks

Joseph Loftus

It could happen any time now

Everyday we rely on the internet for just about every single little thing we do but could it all come crashing down in the near future, researchers believes it could.

Professor Peter Becker of George Mason University has claimed that a solar storm could one day create what he described as an “internet apocalypse”.

Becker said: “The internet has come of age during a time when the sun has been relatively quiet, and now it’s entering a more active time.

“It’s the first time in human history that there’s been an intersection of increased solar activity with our dependence on the internet and our global economic dependence on the internet.”

Becker is the lead investigator on a project with the school and the Naval Research Laboratory to create a warning system, reports Fox Weather.

Speaking about solar flares, Becker said: “Flares are when the sun brightens, and we see the radiation, and that’s kind of the muzzle flash. And then the cannon shot is the coronal mass ejection (CME).

“So, we can see the flash, but then the coronal mass ejection can go off in some random direction in space, but we can tell when they’re actually going to head towards Earth. And that gives us about 18 hours of warning, maybe 24 hours of warning, before those particles actually get to Earth and start messing with Earth’s magnetic field.”

He explained that big blobs of plasma fly through space and when a percentage hit the earth they disrupt our magnetic field.

He said: “So everybody thinks, ‘Oh, my computer’s grounded, I’m okay’, but in an event like this, if you drive inductive currents to the surface of the Earth, it can almost work backwards, and you can end up actually frying things that you thought were relatively safe.”

This has happened in the past back in 1859 when a CME reached earth and took out the telegraph system and Becker believes if this were to happen again, it would massively disrupt the internet.

He said: “So you lay that on top of the internet with its very delicate electronics, you’re talking about something that could really fry the system for a period of several weeks to months in terms of the time it would take to repair all the infrastructure – all of the electronic switches, all of these closets of electronics in all these office buildings.”

Becker said: “That could all be fried. So we’re talking pretty major. And it’s not just communications. It’s economic disruption, too, obviously.”

If this wasn’t enough to worry you, another theory has emerged due to the sun’s solar maximum which occurs every 11 years. This is when the sun’s surface begins to display dark spots which shoot violent explosive energy to the planet.

NASA have predicted that the next solar maximum will begin in 2025, however a new study led by Dr. Dibyendu Nandi, a physicist from the IISER Kolkata Center of Excellence in Space Sciences in India, has predicted an early 2024 solar event.

He explained to the MailOnline: “[It is] not possible to predict the intensity and consequences’ of solar storms this early, but we should learn more as the new year approaches.

“The most intense storms can sometimes result in catastrophic orbital decay of low Earth orbiting satellites and disrupt satellite-based services such as communications and navigational networks.”

This could, in theory, result in massive issues for technology down here on Earth.

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