A massive solar storm, like the one that knocked out radio communications all over the U.S. in 1958, is coming, and this time the devastation could total as much as $2 trillion. Call it the perfect solar storm.
Wireless networks that power Blackberrys and iPhones here on earth, as well as GPS satellites that help pilots navigate planes in the skies, could be blacked out. And electric grids that power neighborhoods and whole cities could temporarily go down, said Professor Jose Lopez, a physicist at Seton Hall University.
“The concern of a strong solar flare in the direction of Earth is legit. The possibility that such a Sun burst could hit Earth could cause extensive damage as it would charge-up our electrical equipment and destroy them,” Lopez told FoxNews.com.
What starts as a multimillion-degree blast of fire from the sun cools over the vast distances of space. But what remains is a wave of energy that leaves satellites "highly charged" and damages components with its high current. Electronics are also damaged by high-energy particles that penetrate them and interfere with transmissions, as are electronics on Earth.
The sun has an activity cycle, much like the hurricane season here on Earth, scientists say.. And as it reaches a peak in activity, more solar flares and plasma will be hurled our way.
“The ramped up solar activity is to be expected through 2013, as it's the peak of the Sun's current 11-year cycle,” Lopez explained.
The whole solar storm could just pass us by, of course, like a giant hurricane that never quite makes landfall. Don’t over-react: the sun is not exploding. The end is not nigh.