'Solar Max' Will Mar Millennium(the Peak of the Sunspot Cycle Should Coincide with the Turn of the Century, Possibly Causing Trouble with Telecommunications, Satellite Components, and Global Positioning systems)(Brief Article)

By Berardelli, Phil | Insight on the News, December 8, 1997 | Go to article overview

'Solar Max' Will Mar Millennium(the Peak of the Sunspot Cycle Should Coincide with the Turn of the Century, Possibly Causing Trouble with Telecommunications, Satellite Components, and Global Positioning systems)(Brief Article)


Berardelli, Phil, Insight on the News


Scientists are forecasting `space weather' in an attempt to cope with a worrisome peak in solar flares expected to coincide with the arrival of the third millennium.

Call it a "solar El Nino," an increasingly troublesome aspect of the sun that should make itself known about the year 2000. That's when our nearest star will reach a condition called solar max, the peak of the sunspot cycle. The cycle will wreak mischief not only with navigation and telecommunications technology but also with increasingly important electric power grids.

Solar max is the culmination of a cycle in the sun's thermonuclear reactions that has persisted with clockwork precision for uncounted centuries. About every 11 years, the sun's energy peaks, generating changes in its appearance and effects. Sunspots, dark islands of relatively cool gases on the star's surface, and solar flares, or huge emissions of gas and electromagnetic waves, both increase. Solar wind--streams of high-energy particles radiating in all directions--can achieve a hurricanelike intensity.

For most of recorded history, the only terrestrial signs of these events were dazzling auroras as the solar wind interacted with Earth's magnetic field near the poles. With exploitation of the electromagnetic spectrum, however, solar max became increasingly disruptive. During World War II, it temporarily knocked out all high-frequency radio traffic in England. A more serious event occurred in 1989, the last peak in the cycle, when a solar storm resulted in a blown voltage regulator on the Hydro-Quebec Power Grid in Canada. Within two minutes, a cascade of broken circuits across the province caused a power blackout that cost Hydro-Quebec at least $10 million and lasted several days.

The disruptions in 2000 will be worse, and the threat threefold, according to Sunanda Basu, an atmospheric scientist with the National Science Foundation and a pioneer in space weather research:

* Large solar flares could trip circuit breakers in power grids all over the northern latitudes. Long-line interconnections among electric companies across North America could result in a domino effect.

* High-energy solar particles may spell trouble for miniature electronic components of satellites. Ironic, but advances in technology to make satellites cheaper and more reliable might result in their destruction.

* Ionospheric scintillation, an electromagnetic disturbance of the upper atmosphere caused by bombardment of solar particles, may cause the most havoc. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Solar Max' Will Mar Millennium(the Peak of the Sunspot Cycle Should Coincide with the Turn of the Century, Possibly Causing Trouble with Telecommunications, Satellite Components, and Global Positioning systems)(Brief Article)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.