back to article NASA: 2012 solar flares could DEVASTATE CITIES!

In an attempt to defuse internet hysteria regarding the purported end of the world next year as the Mayan calendar long-count completes, NASA has stated that next year's solar maximum will see solar flares which are "a problem the same way hurricanes are a problem". That's a very big problem, then. As the US National Oceanic …

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  1. Just a geek
    Pirate

    trains wouldn't move, traffic would be gridlocked - Sounds like a normal day to me. My wife is often in gridlocked traffic and communting from the Southeast into London is rarely without problem.

    phones and the internet wouldn't work - So move away from blackberry and BT Internet?

    the financial markets would be devastated - And this is differerent from today how exactly?

    planes and ships would be lost and wrecked - OK, we don't see planes and ships being lost every day but it happens.

  2. LarsG

    WE'RE DOOMED.....

    We're dooomed, I say it again dooooomed I say dooooooooomed!

    1. vonrikter

      Nasa warns : Solar flares from huge space storm will cause world wide devastation!

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Br7w-4OgGU

  3. BABS
    Unhappy

    Get the numbers of dead Katrina victims right

    Please cross check your numbers for the total dead from Katrina. Thousands died and many of those bodies were never found as they washed out into the Gulf of Mexico from that monster Hurricane.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hundreds/thousands

      As I understand it, at least 18 hundred people died during Katrina.

      'At least' so very possibly you are accurate (albeit pedantic) when you suggest 'thousands' might be more accurate.

  4. Mystic Megabyte
    Trollface

    Something to look forward to

    All iDevice owners will be vaporized as they clutch them tightly to their bosoms :)

    1. Naughtyhorse
      Joke

      If that happens, is it ok to call 911?

      :-D

  5. jake Silver badge

    Oh my gawd/ess! We're all gonna DIE!!!! ::wrings hands::

    Personally, I worry about this kinda thing like I worry about earthquakes[1] ... it is going to happen, eventually, and probably in my lifetime. When it does, we'll pick up the pieces & carry on with our lives. During the meanwhile, I'm cleaning ditches & drains for winter rains, planning my spring planting schedule, and taking care of several very pregnant mares.

    Life's too short to sweat the shit that the Universe *might* throw at you.

    [1] I'm typing within 400 yards of the Rogers Creek Fault, probable home of The Bay Area's NextBigOne[tm]. I'm not complacent, I'm aware. When, not if. Yes, I have enough food and water for the humans & critters for several days ... Months, actually ;-)

  6. Goober
    Facepalm

    Bingo

    So devistation reigns..and a new ice age will start a few years after.,...HMMMMMMMMM...then whe better get this old earth as warm as possible before that happens so the decreas in temps will not be as severe right? Get lots of carbon and greenhouse gasses in the air.It is our only help...The sky is falling, the sky is falling RUN RUN chicken little...Quote " The more intelligent and educated we become the more reason and common sense are pushed aside from oner enlarged egos"

    1. Chris007
      Coat

      What is this devistation you talk about

      All I could find was this

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Maximation%20to%20the%20devistation

    2. bossde
      Go

      Especially given that the Sun will eventually burn out and expand to such an extent it will engulf the inner part of the solar system - which cialisenespana.com includes Earth.

      Don't worry, we've a few million years to either find a fix, and wipe ourselves out first.

  7. Goober
    Facepalm

    Bingo

    So devistation reigns..and a new ice age will start a few years after.,...HMMMMMMMMM...then whe better get this old earth as warm as possible before that happens so the decreas in temps will not be as severe right? Get lots of carbon and greenhouse gasses in the air.It is our only help...The sky is falling, the sky is falling RUN RUN chicken little...Quote " The more intelligent and educated we become the more reason and common sense are pushed aside from our enlarged egos"

  8. Billy Bob Gascan

    Mayan Balderdash

    The "Mayan calendar long-count completes" is codswallop. It's actually the "Maya" calendar. The Long Count doesn't end in 2012 or ever for that matter. There's no five thousand year cycle in the Long Count. December 21, 2012 is the completion of a bak'tun - a period of 144,000 days. 12.19.19.17.19 is followed by 13.0.0.0.0. There are no Mayan prophesies regarding anything happening on this date. See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mesoamerican_Long_Count_calendar

    Who cares about all about the complete crap promoted by new-age morons regarding this date anyway? But at least you could get your story straight regarding the Long Count.

    1. Steve Evans

      So it's the Maya version of Y2K?

      Hmm, that'll be a tricky one to spot, Maya is a weird flaky bit of software at the best of times.

    2. Daniel B.

      Right!

      In fact, the "end" is more or less the Mayan equivalent of Y2K as their units span much more than 12 baktuns. The difference is that Y2k was caused by us humans writing last-2 digits encompassing 100 year intervals, while the Mayan Long Count was commonly written in a 5000 year period. The "common day" calendar used a 54 year cycle, which resets much quicker than the LongCount. Yet nobody was shouting "end o the world"!!!!

    3. Simon Neill
      Trollface

      OMG! It must be true!

      I have a despair calendar on my wall...and I hate to tell you guys this, but there are NO PAGES AFTER DECEMBER!!!

      WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!!

    4. Armando 123

      Isn't Mayan Balderdash all those poems that were said at Obama's inauguration?

    5. The Indomitable Gall

      @ Billy Bob Gascan

      " It's actually the "Maya" calendar "

      Perhaps in the Mayan language the adjective is "Maya", and indeed in Spanish, too, but there is definitely enough corpus evidence to say that in English, the adjective is Mayan. Just like "French" people aren't "Fronsay" in English, and "Italians" aren't "Italiani". I also don't talk about speaking "català" when discussing Catalan in English, and I like "Spanish omelette", not "tortilla de patatas".

    6. Chris007
      Joke

      13.0.0.0.0 - the next bak.tun

      Now we know where we get the idea that 13 is an unlucky number - it's when the Mayans said the world would end.

    7. Rockstar
      FAIL

      Wikipedia?

      For someone who's basing their opinion on Wikipedia, you sure are an arrogant opinionated fool. Of course there is a prophecy. It's a documented fact. Now you may choose to disbelieve it, as you are perfectly entitled to, but to quote you, "but at least you could get your story straight "...

  9. me2u
    Thumb Down

    OMFG what dose this mean? Thomas Aquinas says that “it is clear that blasphemy, which is a sin committed directly against God, is more grave than murder, which is a sin against one's neighbor. … it is called the most grievous sin, for as much as it makes every sin more grievous.”[11]

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

      Sir

      OMFG - Old Mother Fucking Gimp,

      at least that what the preacher told me it meant.

    2. Eddy Ito

      I'll have a go

      OMFG is shorthand for Oh My F-word Glands where f-word glands is, oddly, longhand for testicles. The term is used in reference to something so totally shocking that the shock, if not the actual pain and anguish, is similar to being popped in the nuts with a force appropriate to make the eyes instantaneously water, the knees buckle and expel all traces of oxygen from the lungs for an extended period of time. So, I don't see how Tommy A. would think it a sin as there was no actual use of the f-word and frankly I don't see what is so wrong with the word fornicating even if Tommy had a fucking problem with fornicating.[12]

      [12] A dozen, perhaps that is the daily dose.

    3. Big-nosed Pengie

      No doubt about it

      We'd better start sacrificing virgins and goats pretty bloody quickly. We must appease His wrath!

  10. Webslicer
    FAIL

    The author of this article is an idiot.

    The mere thought of this is amusing, but the authors sincerity makes this one for The Onion. This shit is not in any way true. Devastate cities? Get F*cking real dude.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/fail_32.png

    1. Steve Knox
      Trollface

      The author of this article is a troll.

      You're on The Register. Get used to it.

      1. alwarming
        Go

        he is new. He is still dragging the emoticons to the text input form.

        like this:

        VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV

        http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/mushroom_32.png

    2. IvyKing
      Joke

      Having trouble recognizing sarcasm?

      This is Lewis at his finest, taking some story that has a bunch of scaremongers doing their best at scaremongering and making great fun of it.

      Then again, he might be off his meds...

    3. DRendar

      Yankdar alert!!

      " The mere thought of this is amusing, but the authors sincerity makes this one for The Onion. This shit is not in any way true. Devastate cities? Get F*cking real dude."

      WARNING! WARNING! CLUELESS YANK DETECTED!

      It's called Satire, 'Dude'. He wasn't actually being sincere at all... see no one else in 50+ comments has taken it seriously.

      We commentards welcome people of all nationalities to this very British site with very British humor (the clue is in the .co.uk domain name) but it's probably best to have some idea of what you're wobbling on about before spouting bollocks like this.

      A thick skin is also useful!

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Oh really ?

    "There simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth"

    Is it just me, or does that sound like another tragic Last Word moment ?

    1. Steve Evans

      It does a bit... Especially given that the Sun will eventually burn out and expand to such an extent it will engulf the inner part of the solar system - which includes Earth.

      Don't worry, we've a few million years to either find a fix, and wipe ourselves out first.

    2. Ru
      Boffin

      Re: Oh really?

      There's a world of difference between something like a Nova, or a star reaching EOL and becoming a red giant and a star that could generate a coronal mass ejection capable of frying a magnetosphere-equipped planet that's a hundred million miles away.

      A big blast like the Carrington event (1859? too lazy to look it up) would be quite bad enough, and apparently we get those every 500 years or so according to ice core isotope studies. Even that didn't set much on fire other than telegraph equipment. Going back even further, there'd be evidence of planet-toasting solar activity in ice cores (which would have a record of this sort of thing going back hundreds of thousands of years) and before that, in geological studies... seems like sun just doesn't do that sort of thing.

      Having said that, go look up 'superflare stars'. Can't find much useful information about those, but they're capable of generating flares powerful enough to blast off a planet's ozone layer, turn midwinter temperatures into summer ones and have a good go at melting surface ice to boot... but even they couldn't torch a planet with an earthlike orbit.

      1. The Indomitable Gall

        @Ru

        " Going back even further, there'd be evidence of planet-toasting solar activity in ice cores ..."

        Surely the evidence of planet-toasting solar activity would be a *lack* of ice cores...?

    3. Armando 123
      FAIL

      And they couldn't his an elephant at this distance.

  12. Alister Silver badge

    "Food would rot, trains wouldn't move, traffic would be gridlocked"

    So... no change there then?

  13. WhoIsThis?
    Joke

    "It may not be time to wrap all your electronics in tinfoil just yet."

    Or maybe you should to keep them warm through the "mini Ice Age"!

  14. Blubster
    Meh

    They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...................

    There simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth ... even at their worst, the sun's flares are not physically capable of destroying Earth.

    Famous last words?

  15. Abremms
    Meh

    what about zombies though? the internet said there would be zombies reanimated by solar flares. NASA is being curiously silent on that front. obviously they don't want to cause a panic by telling people about the coming zombie apocalypse as predicted by the Mayan's calander, but I think by remaining silent on the subject they are just confirming that the zombie threat is real and they can't stop it.

  16. Camilla Smythe

    What's that mate?

    Phone not working?

    Front end receiver buggered by Solar Flares?

    Awwwwh Shame.

    Should have bought an iPhone like mine with a 'for shit' aerial from The Prophets.

    I shall dial for two Pizzas using my patented Pizza ordering finger swipe. One for me and one for me. You may starve and have a Darwin award along with all the other non-iPhone users.

    Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

  17. tvalleau

    Perfect article!

    Exactly the kind of article that has earned The Register its stellar reputation for journalistic integrity.

  18. tvalleau

    Perfect article!

    Exactly the kind of article that has earned The Register it's stellar reputation for journalistic integrity...

  19. mj1

    oh well

    nothing that cant be sorted with a new taxhttp://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/facepalm_32.png

  20. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. IvyKing
      Mushroom

      Might slightly increase the likelyhood of meltdowns

      The main concern about "the grid" during a solar storm is large DC currents flowing through the windings of the transformers that terminate long distance transmission lines. To save save and money on electrical insulation, the high voltage windings are Wye "Y" connected with a grounded neutral. This allows the common mode (zero sequence) currents to flow from the ground on one transformer to the ground of another. The concern is that there is not enough resources to repair more than a handful of the transformers in a short period of time.

      The simplistic way of preventing damage to the transformers is to open up the disconnect switches or circuit breakers. The problem is that these devices are designed to open currents with zero crossings (i.e. AC) and may have problems disrupting a large DC current.

      A better solution is to equip the long AC lines with series capacitors, which will also improve power flow. These would prevent DC current from flowing (realizing that DC current is redundant) and likely prevent the damage from geomagnetic storms.

      HVDC lines may be a different story.

  21. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    OMG!!

    Hide the electronics? Hell no! Dig out the old 10m SSB rig and enjoy!

    (27MHz CB'ers too. Just, please, stay in your band. Thanks.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Valves

      Just make sure it's finals are valves, you'll be knackered if it uses these new-fangled transistor thingies.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Too right... Now where did I put that beam antenna...?

      I know it's round here somewhere... Honestly how can I have misplaced that?

      It's not the UK CB'ers I worry about, it's those damn Italians! I swear half the country is using badly aligned RF equipment, and for some reason feel they need 100watt+ to talk to mother just down the street! I just hope they've moved onto skype these days.

  22. Dropper
    WTF?

    Wait a minute..

    "devastate modern civilisation" blah blah, "bringing down power grids" yawn and "frying satellites en masse" /shrug. "Food would rot, trains wouldn't move, traffic would be gridlocked", who cares? crisps don't go off for months, "phones and THE INTERNET WOULDN'T WORK".. O.M.F.G.

    So what you're saying is this could be the End of the World of Warcraft (tm)? And I notice none of the important questions have been asked.. Is the downtime expected to be more than an hour? Will deleting my WTF folder and running a repair restore my WoW connection? Does WoW have it's own backup of the internet just in case of catastrophic, world-wide destruction? Given we are forecasting solar flares, a solar genny for my WoW laptop will be just the ticket right? Do the Red Cross have adequate supplies of spare laptop batteries for all major manufacturers?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If there's any justice

    All iPads will get fritzed by a massive EMP because they forgot to patent some screening technology.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Holmes

    That's why they killed the ibook, now everything is encased in aluminium shells which can be earthed, it's Steve Jobs' last vision, oh wow oh wow oh wow.

  25. kar98sniper
    FAIL

    Is this a joke?

    The author has clearly bought into the sensationalism (maybe to get more views) regarding solar flares and "DOOM." Even if every satellite gets knocked out of the sky and every chip gets fried on earth, it's not going to kill everyone in planes or ships. Every commercial Boeing aircraft has a full hydraulic backup for the control surfaces, so even in a complete electronics failure the pilot can still land safely. That's not to mention the thousands upon thousands of smaller aircraft which are controlled by cables attached to the yolk... In addition, every air and sea captain worth their salt/wings can navigate if their electronic systems fail. Control Towers and aircraft have light-guns/maps/E6-B's and ships have lighthouses/maps/Sextants.

    More realistically, if only the satellites go offline for GPS and other telecommunication, there is still the LORAN system and its offspring that can be rapidly put back into service (see: flip the "on" switch)

    Not to mention many amateur radio systems still use old tubes which are far more impervious to a little burst of radiation than the transistor.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Map

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lighthouse

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation_light_signals

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aircraft_flight_control_system

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sextant

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E6B

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LORAN

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacuum_tube

    Is it really hard to do a bit of research before such grandiose claims of gloom and doom (and the inability to prevent it) are made?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Errr, yes it is a joke

      And I really want to know more about those "aircraft which are controlled by cables attached to the... yolk"...

      Sounds dicey...

      1. Fr Barry
        Thumb Up

        Have a read of this then

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoke_(aircraft)

  26. Zack Mollusc
    Facepalm

    If the traffic lights are taken out, how can there be gridlock? Traffic flows better when traffic lights are broken.

  27. mafoo
    Mushroom

    Investments

    I myself will be investing my money in buying up tin foil futures as they price is going to sky rocket when every man and their hamster will want a tin foil hat next year.

  28. General Pance
    Thumb Up

    And then Global Warming, right.? I heard the science is settled on that.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The search for more money!

    Give the 'populace' a doom scenario and try to back it up with a few known facts and perhaps you'll get more funding to do further research. Of course; the outcome of said research is already predetermined; the whole idea was merely to try and gain extra income in order to survive.

    Sorry but that's how I feel about this.

  30. Mark Scorah
    Coat

    may not be time to wrap you computer in tinfoil yet

    damn I just got a job lot in.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Article boiled to to two sentences ...

    The sky is falling!! But it isn't as bad as it has been in the past.

  32. Mondo the Magnificent
    Devil

    Time to..

    Erect those solar panels I've had laying about in the garage for a year. That way I can be be self sufficient and charge all those devices and gadgets that won't work!

  33. Martijn Otto
    FAIL

    Interesting

    The sun is reportedly going into a period where less solar activity exists, despite the fact that this should be one of the more active periods.

    Somehow though, this period of lesser activity will provide risk to our cities?

  34. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @Mayan Balderdash

    But what about all those old Cobol programs written by Mayans that only used 4 digits for the date?

  35. Arfur Smiff
    Childcatcher

    Yes, but,

    Who's to blame for this? Will there be and inquiry into it? What health and safety precautions should we take? More importantly from whom do we seek compensation?

  36. Gary F

    Headline: NASA says something shocking to keep funding

    If the polititians are told that the world (read USA) is at risk and it's important to monitor the sun's spots/output then that's what NASA wants to ensure their funding isn't slashed further and more egg-heads and pen pushers are lost post Shuttle era.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    dodgy caps

    The big problem is the ion charge the planet would (might) receive which would pop all the capacitors and fry a lot of chips. The Problem with that really id there doesn't seem to be much in the way of a stored supply of these items as most are made for just in time delivery to OEM's and supply channels. We saw some of this with the Japanese earthquake. There is some historical evidence of massive solar flares causing problems.

    Personally Id buy some TVP and tinned food and keep some fire wood and kindling. If nothing happens who cares but if it does at least u can eat.

    Buy a valve radio just in case there is anything out there.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Assuming that you intend to operate it from mains power, or it uses a vibrator power supply; make sure that it uses a valve type rectifier as many valve type radios built in the 50s and later use selenium rectifiers, which may be susceptible to EMP. If you intend to operate it from "A" and "B" batteries, make sure that you have lots of batteries, those suckers EAT batteries, especially the "A" (filament) battery.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    I have nothing to contribute to the discussion....

    But after all these comet/solar flare/financial catastrophe articles, I demand that we get a "We're all gonna die!!" icon.....

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Physics Jim

    There simply isn't enough energy in the sun to send a killer fireball 93 million miles to destroy Earth

    Oh yes there is.

    It may be true to say the workings of the sun and the rules which effectively govern it may not allow for such an eventuality.

    But to claim the energy is not present is just daft.

  41. Babai
    Joke

    Reminds me of Y2K warnings

    nt

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is the new consultant to NASA

    Chicken Licken?

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So, will the Reg Weights and Measures Soviet.......

    Be giving us ways to measure these mass ejections?

  44. Fenton

    Financial advice

    Buy shares in canned food companies.

    Their turn over will go through the roof with people stocking up.

    Then sell the day before "dooms ay" (the shares will crach afterwards)

  45. Jolyon Ralph

    Start panicking!

    I'm more alarmed about the possibility this will trigger the earth's core to stop rotating, and that we'd have to drill down to the core and restart it spinning with nuclear weapons. I saw a documentary about this once...

  46. Graham Bartlett

    @Erik Borgo

    It might wok for you. Personally I prefer it lightly grilled.

    I save my wok for slices of dumbass commentards who post random shit which is unrelated to the article or what other people have posted.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  47. Nick Ryan Silver badge
    Mushroom

    BOFH

    Solar flares are already listed on the BOFH excuse list. No news here, move along now... :)

  48. vonrikter

    Magnetic Energy Apocalypse - Solar Flares

    Nasa warns : Solar flares from huge space storm will cause world wide devastation!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Br7w-4OgGU

  49. Dennis Wilson
    Thumb Up

    SOLAR BEWARE

    If my memory serves me correctly Canada had a massive power outage in 1989 due to the last big solar flare. Several million people lost power for around nine hours.

    Strange as it may seem, not one igloo was flattened, and not one polar bear was killed. I think the safest thing to do is spend whole of 2012 in an igloo with your head stuck up a polar bears bum

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