Networks to suffer because of solar flares

Boffins are warning that three big solar burps are expected to cause disruptions to satellite, telecommunications and electric equipment and should prepare for possible disruptions over the next few days.

Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has warned that a magnetic storm that is soon to develop probably will be in the moderate to strong level with a slight smell of onions.

This could stuff up communications and global positioning system (GPS) satellites as the Sun can’t really blame the dog, or a heavy night’s drinking.

The Northern Lights also might be a little more southern than normal. Unfortunately you might not get your phone to work to text your friends to look out of the window.

Although boffins tend to warn people about solar storms, few people pay much notice. This is despite the fact that in 1989, a solar storm took down the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving about six million people without power for several hours.

But scientiststhink that the current solar cycle could create the sort of burps that created the worst solar storm in history in 1859. Fortunately the communications infrastructure was limited to telegraphs. Telegraph operators had electric shocks. Papers caught fire. And many telegraph systems continued to work even after they had switched them off. If we have a storm like that these days it would cause $2 trillion in damage globally.

He said the next peak, called a solar maximum, was expected in 2013. It is believed by many New Age types that the world will transform itself in 2012 into something a lot more spiritual as a result.