rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » News » In 2013, earth is headed for MAJOR havoc

In 2013, earth is headed for MAJOR havoc

Last updated on: September 21, 2010 12:03 IST

In 2013, earth is headed for MAJOR havoc

     Next

Next

2013 is being heralded as the year that might see catastrophic events wreaking havoc with our planet, say scientists.

They fear a huge solar flare is due to erupt in 2013.

It is expected to cause power grids to crash, communication systems to collapse, planes to be grounded, food supplies to be hit and the Internet to be shut down.

A solar flare is a large explosion of magnetic energy in the Sun's atmosphere which causes an intense burst of increased brightness.

They cannot be detected by the naked eye from the surface of the earth but can be observed through telescopes, space x-rays and thermal imaging equipment.

Click on NEXT to read further...


Image: An illustration of a solar flare

     Next

Last major flare disrupted the early telegraph system

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

British Defence Secretary Liam Fox called an emergency conference in London on Monday where he warned of potential damage if an explosion similar to the one in 1859 occurred in modern times.

Occurring only once about every century, the solar flare could cause massive power surges.

While the last major flare in the mid-nineteenth century disrupted the early telegraph system, a similar event now could disable modern life, with computers, telephones, water and food supplies affected, media agencies reported.

The amount of energy released by a flare can be equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time -- ten million times greater than that released by a volcanic eruption.



Prev     Next

'Chain of our security is only as strong as its weakest link'

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Often lasting just a few minutes, solar flares heat material to many millions of degrees and produce a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, including from radio waves to x-rays and gamma rays.

Monday's conference also heard that a hostile power could cause a similar effect by exploding a nuclear weapon in space.

"While we all benefit from scientific advances, so we also create vulnerabilities that can be exploited by our enemies," The Sun quoted Fox as saying.

"However advanced we become, the chain of our security is only as strong as its weakest link," he added.

And former US government defence adviser Dr Avi Schnurr warned, "A geomagnetic storm could shatter nations all over the earth. We cannot wait for disaster to spur us to action."


Image: British Defence Secretary Liam Fox
Photographs: Reuters
Prev     Next

In 2013, earth is headed for MAJOR havoc

Prev     More
Prev

More

In 1989, a more common smaller solar flare took out power stations in Quebec, Canada.

Professor John Brown, the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, said: "Dr Fox's summary of the advice he has received is essentially correct.

"The risk of it happening is small, and probably far less than the risk of rogue attacks, most likely on software like power grid controls than by the vastly more difficult nuclear explosion in space," The Scotsman quoted him as saying.

"However, a solar incident could happen and be much more widespread, and there is no doubt our communications, food chains and medical care are fragile as well as sophisticated," he added.



Prev     More
AGENCIES