National Geographic : 2012 Oct
• LETTERS "I find it dubious, if not irresponsible, to continually link this subject to a pending doomsday scenario." "I was immediately sunstruck by the story! Wow." "Like most people, I take the sun for granted." "The sun is good. We need the sun to live. The sun is bad. The sun will kill you." several thousand years, possibly more accurately." "I was lost throughout most of the story." "Forecasting was done for the past have electricity when power grids are down?" "Will houses with solar panels still GRAPHIC: JUAN VELASCO, NGM STAFF June 2012 Solar Storms EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org TWITTER @NatGeoMag WRITE National Geographic Magazine, PO Box 98199, Washington, DC 20090-8199. Include name, address, and daytime telephone. Letters may be edited for clarity and length. I was wondering if there is any way to organize a graceful shutdown of the electrical grid in a large area if we had two days to prepare. I'm doubtful that humans could get past the political, bureaucratic, and security concerns, and I'm sure the crazies would be out in force if we could accomplish this. But how much money, effort, and tragedy could we save if we thought that far ahead? DANE WARNER Glendora, California I have a friend who for some reason monitors Russian websites. For the past few months she's been telling all of her friends about how huge solar storms can wipe out electricity and shut down entire cities. We just ignored her, thinking she was just being paranoid. And then I got this issue. Thanks to your maga- zine's coverage, she now has something to hold over us. BIANCA WILHELM Windermere, Florida Your "Sun Struck" article, and other publications, declare it a mystery why the corona is so much hotter than the sun's surface---an anomaly that any heat source object should be hotter at a greater radius, rather than cooler. To me, the riddle has been answered. Solar flares and their magnetic reconnec- tion events are a nuclear fusion process known as the CNO cycle, an early hypothesis of [physicist] Hans Bethe's for the sun's core yet never imagined at the sun's surface. NOEL EBERZ Naalehu, Hawaii Hong Kong Your article reminded me of my five-day visit in 1957. When our plane landed, we were surround- ed by groups of tailors---mine were three supposed brothers, John, Robert, and Patrick. The material was picked out on day one, sewn and fitted on day two, boxed on day three, and fell apart when I got back to Okinawa on day six. BERNARD A. YABLIN Rochester, New York Those researching space weather seem to have neglected to study geomagnetic reversals, which are the basis of seafloor spreading. One would hope that meteorologists, astronomers, and geologists would utilize information from other sciences. It would seem to be significant that we have evidence that solar storms have, over geologic time, reversed Earth's magnetic field. The severity of electromag- netic disruption that could be attendant with such a future solar storm would be staggering. MICHAEL H. FRIMPTER USGS Geologist, Retired Naples, Florida NGM.COM JUNE 2012 Simple Beauty in the Outer Banks 54 True Colors of the Terra-Cotta Army 74 Estonia's Ural Owls 88 Hong Kong Jitters 98 Socotra: Yemen's Mysterious Island 122 SUPER HOW THEY COULD IMPACT OUR HIGH-TECH WORLD FEEDBACK Reader responses ran hot and cold on our solar storms coverage.