We both cuss and love the sun in Texas. It provides the light needed for our plants, grass and trees to grow and nourish our bodies with vitamin D. It also scorches us with 110 degree days in the middle of summer. The sun is nothing more than a huge star that our little blue marble known as the Earth rotates around in our little galaxy. In about a billion years, give or take, that star will devour us as it collapses on itself during its final days. In the meantime, the sun will have some fiery storms that will shoot bursts of energy towards us that could knock out electronics and even the internet across Texas and the world.

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The Sun

The sun is an extremely volatile object in space. While it does help sustain life on Earth, the sun itself is constantly churning producing explosions and storms. Those storms can send blasts of energy toward the Earth that can cause disruptions in the various satellites that orbit the Earth all the way down to our everyday electronics. Scientists are constantly monitoring the sun for these energy bursts and even believe that an event could take place that could knock out anything from radio transmissions to power grids to the internet.

The internet has come of age during a time when the sun has been relatively quiet, and now it's entering a more active time. It's the first time in human history that there's been an intersection of increased solar activity with our dependence on the internet and our global economic dependence on the internet. - Professor Peter Becker of George Mason University

1859 Carrington Event

In 1859, there was an event called a coronal mass ejection from the sun, sometimes referred to as the 1859 Carrington Event. This was a large expulsion of plasma and part of the sun's magnetic field that was powerful enough to affect the Earth's magnetic field. The blast was effective enough that it caused telegraph lines to spark. Scientists believe that another event similar to the 1859 Carrington Event could happen within the next decade.

What it Means

What it means is that if something like the 1859 Carrington Event happens again, it could knock out power grids, the satellites orbiting Earth, our GPS navigation systems, our radio station's transmissions from our broadcast towers, communications equipment and even the internet.

Cost of a Crippled Internet

Some would argue that the blowing out the internet would be a good thing. In a way, I think it would be. Those keyboard warriors would get a nice punch in the gut for sure. All kidding aside, if the internet were knocked out like scientists believe could happen, it could cost the United States alone about $10-$20 billion a day for the several weeks to possibly months it's down.

Prevention

Scientists are working on some early warning systems that could help protect delicate systems from melting down during these solar storms. This will also give time for power grids to be turned off so they are not affected as severely if they remained on. Internet providers also have time to find ways to protect the system from a solar storm during this time.

These storms are hard to predict but we have a warning now that they could happen. Even though there is only a 10% percent chance of these storms hitting Earth, it's better to be protected then not at all. Get more details on this at chron.com.

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