Last Updated on September 9, 2021 by Calvin C.
Can you imagine life without the internet? Well, if predictions of a new study are correct, we could be heading for major solar storm that could result in “internet apocalypse.”
The last major solar event took place in May 1921, causing extensive damage to telegraph systems in the mid-20th century.
Nowadays, the world is connected using the internet and if such a catastrophe occurs, it could disrupt communications, cause mass outages and cost businesses millions of dollars.
The Sun is like huge fusion bomb and it constantly releases electromagnetic particles, called solar winds, that bombard the Earth.
Usually these solar winds are deflected by the Earth’s magnetic field but in this instance the magnitude of the solar ejection exceeds what the shield can handle.
The research was presented by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, an assistant professor at the University of Carlifornia, and this took place at the SIGCOMM 2021 data communication conference
According to the study, the solar superstorms could produce clouds of magnetized particles that cause damage to electrical grids and undersea cables that connect much of the world’s internet.
The probability of this solar event impacting Earth is estimated to be between 1.6% and 12% in the next decade.
If this happens, entire countries may be plunged into darkness and even if the power is restored, internet connection is likely to be down for weeks, or even months.
There is light at the end of the tunnel
At the moment, the world is not fully prepared for a global internet blackout because this is a rare event.
However, all hope is not lost as Prof. Jyothi’s research indicated that regional internet connections aren’t likely to be severely damaged because fiber-optic cables can withstand geomagnetically induced currents.
“There are no models currently available of how this could play out,” Abdu Jyothi was quoted by Wired “We have more understanding of how these storms would impact power systems, but that’s all on land. In the ocean it’s even more difficult to predict.”
The major damage that researchers predict will be of long undersea cables and power grids.
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