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Cosmic Katrina - Dr Stuart Clark

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I have the cover story on the October issue of BBC Knowledge magazine:

 
“With no warning, a sudden loss of electrical power has struck the whole of the United States. Air traffic control goes offline, hospitals switch to back-up generators. A stunning aurora dances in the sky overhead as you make your way home through the chaos to wait it out.

 
But the blackout stretches on. Hours become days and the power does not return. There is no internet, television or newspapers to tell you what is happening, and no phones to check if your friends are OK. The diesel that drives the emergency generators in hospitals runs out. The food stores are empty – there’s no electricity to power any fuel pumps so the delivery trucks have stopped.

 


In short, the technological trappings of civilisation have been destroyed at a single stroke by a solar storm – a hail of electrified, superheated gases, catapulted from the Sun with the energy of a thousand atomic bombs.  With little warning, it conjures up phantom currents in the power lines and damages the transformers beyond repair – along with many of the satellites that we rely upon for communications and navigation. ...”


Read the full article in BBC Knowledge’s October 2009 issue. Visit them on the web here.

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