Science

NASA Puts The Kybosh On Solar Flare Hype...For Now

Meanwhile, up in space, a class X solar flare event has triggered the biggest solar storm in four years, which given its large size – had the potential to disrupt ground communications back here on Earth.

But for all you doomsayers and Y2K disciples banging on about the end of the world – you’re out of luck this time – again! The storm, much to the disappointment of various media publications around the world, has failed to make much of a dent here on earth and very few (if any) reports have surfaced due to the flare. NASA was quick to jump on speculation that this could be the solar version of Katrina and called the flare ‘weak’ – which is one way I’ve never thought of describing anything sun-related.

Sure, solar flare disruptions can play havoc with airline communications and navigation instruments – but in reality, most of the time, these kind of events pass by routinely and without too much cause for worry. Not that you would have known this from the world’s mainstream media – with headlines like this:

  • Space weather could wreak havoc in gadget-driven world
  • Space storms threaten technology
  • Scientists warn of $2000bn solar ‘Katrina’ (my favourite of the headlines, but behind a paywall of course)
  • While NASA seem none too worried, some scientists are using the recent sudden publicity to call attention to ‘potential’ future events; the type which often requires a call to Bruce Willis, a group of burly blokes and a chance to save us all from interstellar destruction.

    In an interview with Space.com, John Beddington, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser railed against feelings of complacency and helped designed the poster quote for the upcoming disaster pic, “When Solar Flares Attack!” (Okay, so we made that last part up).

    “It is slightly scary, and I think properly so…We’ve got to be scared by these events otherwise we will not take them seriously.”

    NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco, who should know a thing or two about big time disasters had similar thoughts:

    “This is not a matter of if, it’s simply a matter of when and how big.”

    I think I liked the official NASA version better.


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