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The most plausible doomsday scenario involves solar flares and magnetic storms. What connection do they have?

The most plausible doomsday scenario involves solar flares and magnetic storms. What connection do they have? 1

The Earth is currently experiencing magnetic storms, triggered by intense solar flares. This elevated level of solar activity is worrisome, and the repercussions could extend far beyond mere migraines.

For ages, humanity has pondered various doomsday scenarios. Some scientists posit that a catastrophic volcanic eruption could spell the end for civilization by devastating the global economy and causing climate anomalies.

Meanwhile, the potential for artificial intelligence to trigger an apocalypse has been acknowledged, with some advocating for the exploration of black holes as both a sanctuary and a peril for humankind. However, the predominant belief is that nuclear war represents the most likely scenario for the world’s end.

Could solar flares lead to the end of the world?

Solar flares and magnetic storms are often not taken seriously, with debates ongoing about their impact on human health.

However, May 2024 has been a notably active month for the Sun. On the 15th, a massive solar flare, one of the largest ever recorded, was estimated to have a power of 8.7 points by international astronomy laboratories. Frequent new instances of solar activity have been observed, leading to a succession of intense magnetic storms. Although the activity levels have decreased, this could potentially be a brief respite before a significant storm.

“We will be studying this event for many years to come. This will help us understand more about the nature of magnetic and solar storms.”

An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is commonly linked to the aftermath of a nuclear explosion. However, EMPs can also result from solar flares and, at high intensities, have the potential to disable all electronic equipment on Earth. This would lead to the irreversible loss of all digital media and the information contained within: smartphones, computers, manufacturing systems, and sophisticated medical devices would all cease to function. The modern generation would face significant challenges surviving without the conveniences of civilization and adapting to a drastically altered reality. In such a scenario, this form of apocalypse could persist for decades.

Could a strong solar flare destroy all electronics on Earth?

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A solar flare is more than just an eruption of hot gases from an intensely hot star; it emits a burst of light waves, including X-rays and gamma rays, which are known to be harmful to humans. However, as long as Earth’s atmosphere effectively absorbs these hazardous rays, they remain safe for people on the ground, though equipment may suffer damage.

Coronal mass ejections can seriously disrupt electrical systems, yet a single flare is unlikely to cause issues at Earth’s surface. Researchers assert that even in extreme cases, a solar superstorm would not completely destroy the planet’s electrical systems, but an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) might.

The most realistic end of the world scenario

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The electromagnetic pulse is indeed listed among the destructive effects of nuclear weapons. Nuclear warfare has moved beyond the realm of fantastical apocalyptic scenarios. Officially, eight countries possess nuclear warheads: North Korea, China, the USA, Russia, Great Britain, France, India, and Pakistan. Israel and Iran are also suspected of having nuclear capabilities, though this has not been officially confirmed.

A nuclear explosion can cause death through a shock wave, radiation, a burst of intense heat, and an electromagnetic pulse. The latter, while harmless to humans, can disable all electronic equipment. Such a scenario now appears more plausible than, say, global infertility or the annihilation of humanity by an alien colony.

Death can also result from the Sun’s impact during a supernova explosion: fortunately, all stars near our solar system are currently stable and tranquil. However, with many supernovae in the galaxy, the risk remains. If gamma radiation from such an explosion were to hit the solar system, it would destroy the ozone layer, leading to the extinction of all life on Earth due to the lack of UV protection. While shelters and underground cities might offer refuge, exposure to gamma rays could still cause mutations and radiation sickness.

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