Saturday, August 17, 2013

Discovery News on the sun flipping

The Sun Is About To Flip

Ok, don't freak, but the the sun is flipping out! Scientists are spreading the word that it's about to undergo a complete polar reversal that will be felt throughout our solar system. Laci explains what's going on and how it will impact you.
I discuss polar wandering and magnetic pole reversal on the Earth as part of my lecture on plate tectonics in geology every semester.  The topic prompts my students to ask about what effect that would have if it happened now.  I point to magnetic reversals of the Sun as examples of how that event would play out.  As Laci points out, the reversal of the Sun's magnetic field is a good thing for Earth as it increases protection against cosmic rays.  However, Laci ignores the effects of increased sunspot activity, which would make for more solar storms.  That wouldn't be good for Earth, especially if they happen when the Earth's field is also reversing.  Such a combination might fry our electric grid.  Good thing the U.N is organizing an international response to stormy space weather.

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