[Can the Sun really cause an 'online apocalypse'?

For several weeks, social networks have been spreading conspiracy theories that have gone viral about the possibility of a solar storm capable of disrupting all forms of communication on Earth. What is and should we believe in this “online apocalypse”?

Could a solar storm one day cause internet access to be lost for months or even years? Popularized in 2020 by Sangeetha Abdu Jyothi, professor of computer science at the University of California, Irvine, in her article “Solar Superstorms: Planning for an Internet Apocalypse“, this “Internet Apocalypse” could happen, according to her, in 2023. If solar storms are rare, they nevertheless exist, as evidenced by the numerous malfunctions caused by the Carrington event of 1859 or the solar flare that plunged millions of Canadians into darkness in 1989.”The risk of solar storms with devastating effects on our society increases as the solar maximum approaches, which is expected to reach 2025”, reminds NASA for its part (via Cnet). If the severity of these events is not science fiction, experts nevertheless believe that the probability of the Sun knocking us out numerically remains slim.

What would happen if the internet stopped working?

With no Internet signal on Earth and satellites blocked, communications, supply chains and the global economy will be immediately at risk. According to online watchdog NetBlocks, the economic impact of a single day of loss of connectivity in the United States is estimated at more than $11 billion. In a hyper-connected world where our eyes are constantly glued to our phones, this prospect panics many, but the effect of the magnetic fields caused by a solar storm on our infrastructure is the subject of much speculation.

According to researcher Jyothi's report, however, the risks of such a storm plunging us into chaos are minimal. However, he estimates there is between a 1.6% and 12% chance that such an explosion could weaken our satellites in the next decade. “Our infrastructure is not prepared for a large scale solar event. We have a very limited understanding of the extent of the damage.” commented in the magazine Wired on the sidelines of the SIGCOMM conference in 2021. And that's a good thing, since NASA intends to correct this lack of knowledge.

Artificial intelligence could sound the alarm

In a press release published last March, NASA explains that it has developed a computer model called “DAGGER” that combines artificial intelligence and their satellite data, which could “sound the alarm about dangerous space weather conditions.” . This amazing system could predict where a solar storm will hit Earth within 30 minutes. “This could provide enough time to prepare for these storms and avoid severe impacts on power grids and other critical infrastructure“, assures NASA. According to the research team, this model can produce predictions in less than a second, which are updated every minute. This technology has already borne fruit in August 2011 and March 2015 against two geomagnetic storms .DAGGER was able to quickly and accurately predict the storm's effects around the world, we also read.

In February 2022, SpaceX got a first taste of the damage this type of event could cause. Billionaire Elon Musk's facilities were indeed victims of a geomagnetic storm shortly after a Starlink mission took off, resulting in the loss of 40 of the 40 satellites launched in early February. NASA later revealed that a plume of plasma (from a halo-shaped coronal mass ejection in late January) had hit Earth's magnetosphere, destroying SpaceX's Starlink satellites. NASA later explained that this accident, caused by “a mass of plasma impacting our planet's magnetosphere,” could have been avoided if the launch had been delayed. “Many of these commercial companies do not understand how space weather can affect satellites, especially these small satellitesTamitha Skov, a researcher at Aerospace Corp., commented at the time CNBC.

@tost..16

While the title is a little over the top, it's very, very, like ridiculously unlikely that an “internet apocalypse” will happen especially of the magnitude that people are saying, like I'm willing to bet money that it won't happen and if then it sure as hell won't be the end of all civilization as people say • #internetapocalypse #solarevents #solarflare #nasa #parkersolarprobe #bisexual #bisexuality #bisexualtiktok #bisexualpride

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