We expect the Sun to reach a natural peak of activity in 2013, just as it has done every 11 years or so for as far back in history as we can measure, but that does not mean a gigantic solar storm is imminent. The last gigantic storm was in 1859, as described in my book The Sun Kings. We simply do not know when the next big one is coming and that is why we need to protect our power grids and technology by fitting new safeguards as soon as possible.
The summit meeting was attended by government representatives from more than 20 nations along with scientists and policy makers. It was good to hear the Secretary of State for Defence Liam Fox take this threat seriously. The next summit is now planned for Washington DC in April 2011 to discuss progress.
Afterwards I was interviewed for BBC2’s Newsnight TV programme. You can watch the piece on the Newsnight website here. It is presented by the programme’s science editor Susan Watts.