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    Re: Solar Flares 2012
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2010 Aug 28, 23:11 -0700

    Andrew, you wrote:
    "Well guys (and girls) if this article is true, and I am not sure how accurate the prediction is, we should get our sextants ready because GPS could be severely degraded. Although I am sure that there are really smart people working on this problem at the moment."

    The article is more "silly season" junk. A minor astronomy instructor and part-time journalist in Australia wrote a moderately exciting story about the potential for solar activity which was then picked up by a somewhat more general-market Australian news source and distorted a bit making it sounds more serious, and from there it appears to have been picked up by the general-market Indian news source you linked which made matters even worse.

    So what's the grain of truth underlying the tall tale this time? Short and sweet, we have been in a prolonged solar minimum for a couple of years. Solar maxima have followed solar minima like clockwork for the past few hundred years with an approximate cycle of eleven years so we can expect solar activity to peak a few years from now. When that happens the probability of significant magnetic "space weather" events including those generated by solar flares is higher than average. But again, this happens every eleven years or so. It's nothing new (what IS "new" is the global dependence on certain kinds of electronics including many GPS receivers which have been developed more recently than the last solar maximum --they haven't been "battle tested"). There might be a severe magnetic event THIS year. It doesn't have to wait for solar maximum. There might be one in 2012. There might be one in a hundred years. These things are currently as unpredictable as devastating earthquakes, and at best we can talk about statistical probabilities. There is no actual prediction from any reputable scientific source saying that there will be a giant solar flare specifically in 2012. That's just media tying together the threads of the 2012 Maya calendar silliness with the approaching solar maximum --which will probably occur in 2014 or later in any case.

    Be careful what you read in the "funny papers" in August! :)

    -FER


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