Geomagnetic storms from coronal mass ejections will not hurt small disconnected electronics or transistor junctions. The timescale of the rate of change in the Earth's magnetic field is not short. There are not high frequency components. Only long conductors like oil pipelines, telecommuncations wires, and power lines and the backbone transformers will be effected. The integrated circuits in your smart phone will not be.
Also, like I said in the hackaday thread, in most of the ways that matter (ie, geomagnetic effect at earth) the 1989 CME that blacked out part of Canada was significantly stronger than the Carrington event. We, as Earth, haven't really added that much more long distance conductors since then. I wouldn't worry.
That isn't to say there's no danger. Certainly trying to replace the backbone transformers when the electrical infrastructure is down would be very hard. Those things take months to make, ship, and install in a well operating society. A CME that knocks out the power grid everywhere would be devastating.
One of the points in the presentation is that there are only one or two companies in the world that makes these transformers and there aren't a lot of these transformers just siting around waiting for a Carrington level event.
One of our goals for the summer was to use a LSTM neural network to forecast what would happen and possibly give warning when a CME slams into the earth. We could forecast a little bit into the future using geomag data. One of the subgoals of this work was to bring awareness and potentially help warn parties involved with the world's infrastructure.
A key point out of this is that there are dedicated researchers in both the public and private sectors that study sun. They are busily trying to understand how the sun works and help create systems that help warn satellite and power grid operators.
Two presentations from that year worth taking a look at might be of interest.
Applications for this year's FDL summer program can be found at.
That is a huge relief. I was worried it was going to affect things that civilization has come to rely on heavily.
(Seriously though, your insight is very welcome and I thank you for it!)
That's one of my favorite versions of "if life hands you lemons, make lemonade" stories.
Knowing what we know now about CME's, I wonder if it has ever been surmised that one option that might spare some expensive parts of the electric grid is a massive grid-wide disconnection prior to the CME arrival. This wouldn't save everything, but I think it would save a lot of blown megatransformers were they to be removed from transmission lines, reducing induced currents through them.
>The total U.S. population at risk of extended power outage from a Carrington-level storm is between 20-40 million, with durations of 16 days to 1-2 years. The duration of outages will depend largely on the availability of spare replacement transformers. If new transformers need to be ordered, the lead-time is likely to be a minimum of five months. The total economic cost for such a scenario is estimated at $0.6-2.6 trillion USD (see Appendix).
>While the probability of an extreme storm occurring is relatively low at any given time, it is almost inevitable that one will occur eventually. Historical auroral records suggest a return period of 50 years for Quebec-level storms and 150 years for very extreme storms, such as the Carrington Event that occurred 154 years ago.
Bear in mind, this report was authored six years ago.
Imagine: No phones. No internet. No cell or data. No fresh food. No running water. Can't get gasoline to go somewhere else... The tension is literally palpable.
It was by far the most mind-altering experience I've had in terms of making me realize how thin the veil of society really is.
But then, you get used to it. If you have water, you shower in the dark. You grill a lot. It's not a big deal... for a couple of days.
Where it gets really scary is that the longer an area goes without power, the worse it gets. Stockpiles and safeguards assume a certain max duration and as those get exhausted, new problems appear. You run out of perishable food, gas in your car, and charcoal to grill with.
Eventually, hospitals run out of diesel for backup generators. When that happens, people start dying very quickly. I imagine at some point the sewer system fails and then disease starts spreading.
The Dark Ages are always there waiting to return as soon as the infrastructure is down long enough.
Pretty much anyone living in a rural or semi-rural area where freezing rain sometimes happens in the winter or hurricanes sometimes happen in the fall has experience with a week or longer power outage. It wouldn't be "business as usual" but a lot of people would be fine. The intersection between those people and people posting on HN just happens to be low.
But also, urban areas would be harder hit precisely because they rely on their infrastructure more. And those areas are also the ones with more people.
I have 3-4 weeks of water, more than that in food, crappy canned food, but food. Weeks of Coffee and TP for my bunghole. Trauma and first aide gear. Gun. I really should get a portable generator. I'd rather just get a couple of Tesla powerwalls and solar...
If you wanted to buy a city-sized transformer today you'd be put on a list for delivery sometime in the next few years. Trying to replace a continent's worth is a non-starter.
Given emergencies, governments can setup the necessarily laws and contingencies to put focus on rebuilding the electrical infrastructure. The army has generators, which can be used to bootstrap building more and setting up makeshift transformers. Building transformers is not black magic. Nationalising eletricity-related patents and some companies to put resource on what matters and gearing up the rebuilding can be voted on rapidly.
I know from work (don't have links, sorry) that some distribution and transmission network operators include solar disruption in their incident response planning.
> According to a report published in 2012 by physicist Pete Riley of Predictive Science Inc., the chance of Earth being hit by a Carrington-class storm between 2012 and 2022 is 12%.
As it’s an independent probability (i.e. the time elapsed since the last event does not affect the probability of reoccurrence), it’s likely the former, and therefore the same expected value - 1.2% in any given year.
The chance that the event does not happen is 88%. And since years are independent and identically distributed as you say, 88% = q^10 so q~= 98.7%; therefore the chances that it does happen are ~=1.3%
(As it turns out, your approximation works because as the time-grid becomes finer and finer, the geometric process becomes a gamma process. It does fail dramatically for 2-7 years.)
Is the matter in space such a slowdown on the plasma cloud that once cleared it allows that cloud to travel much faster?
Not sure what the next level is? Something about societal artistic interpretation of aurorae impacting the perception of the visual image created, perturbing our sense of reality?
How extreme would a CME have to be for it to "fry" things that are not connected to any power source, like a disconnected, powered-off computer? Is it even possible?
Induction is going to be more or less proportional to the area enclosed by a conductor, which essentially means long transmission lines are the things to worry about. And this is length scales on the order of 10^5 or 10^6 meters, versus 10^-1 meters for your devices.
Cars are very leaky Faraday cages. If they weren't, you wouldn't be able to use your phone inside one. Because of the glass apertures, they can only provide protection from very, very long radio wavelengths - MF, LF, and VLF, all much longer than FM/VHF/UHF/microwave.
They'll also (probably) protect you from direct lightning hits, because the discharge passes through the conductive skin and won't usually take a detour through any occupants.
Flare events won't affect your phone anyway. Deliberate EMP might, but EMP would quite likely to be a precursor to nuclear war, so keeping your phone working might not be your absolute top priority.
Back up to paper.
How high exactly? At the surface of the earth? I mean, if it's microwave level energy, that would imply it was harmful to humans?
(Conversely, the non-harmfulness of the Carrington Event to life should be good evidence against the people worried about phone masts...)
Of course the same time as the electrical storm trashes the grid shutting down all the baseload nuke plants would just add to the chaos.
In summary, ammunition will not go off.