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A ward full of patients in iron lungs, i.e., the good ole days, before polio vaccine was available.
This week we learned that back in 2012, Earth barely missed a solar storm of such magnitude it might have fried the intertoobz and every other critical communications network. How bad could it have been? We only need to look back to the solar onslaught in late summer of 1859 to get an idea:
Aurorae were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere even as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast because they thought it was morning. People who happened to be awake in the northeastern US could read a newspaper by the aurora's light. The aurora was visible as far from the poles as Cuba and Hawaii.

Telegraph systems all over Europe and North America failed, in some cases giving telegraph operators electric shocks. Telegraph pylons threw sparks. Some telegraph systems continued to send and receive messages despite having been disconnected from their power supplies. ... In June 2013, a joint venture from researchers at Lloyd's of London and Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER) in the United States used data from the Carrington Event to estimate the current cost of a similar event to the world economy at $2.6 trillion.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sat Jul 26, 2014 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by SciTech.

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