Warning: Solar superstorm may cause weeks of internet issues

A coronal mass ejection (CME) or solar storm has the potential to disturb Earth's magnetic field
The image shows a wifi symbol on a phone screen and a red line cutting through. — Unsplash
The image shows a wifi symbol on a phone screen and a red line cutting through. — Unsplash

Scientists have issued a serious warning of potential chaos as the upcoming 11-year solar cycle gears up, marked by heightened sunspots and solar flares. Projections hint at disruptions to everyday life lasting weeks or even months, despite forecasts indicating a relatively mild peak expected in the first half of 2024.

Amid this forecast, another research team gears up to test blockchain technology's resilience in space, preparing for potential turbulence caused by solar activity.

"Human history meets heightened solar activity as our reliance on the internet intersects with this phenomenon," commented George Mason University Professor Peter Becker to Fox Weather. "This era of amplified solar activity poses unprecedented risks to our digitally dependent global economy."

A coronal mass ejection (CME) has the potential to disturb Earth's magnetic field, inducing electrical currents that may traverse the ground. Such occurrences have the capability to damage various electronic devices such as computers, and cell phones, and could impair the functionality of our power grid and satellites.

The most recent encounter with a CME striking Earth dates back to 1859. During this event, the telegraph system suffered considerable damage, with sparks emanating from the wires. Shockingly, some operators faced electrocution as a result of this disruptive solar phenomenon.

Solar flares and radiation, studied exhaustively by scientists and engineers, threaten Earth's technology. NOAA underscored the impact, recounting an incident in early 2022 when minor space weather events caused SpaceX Starlink satellite failures.

Professor Becker stressed the urgency of solar event warnings, estimating Earth might receive only 18 to 24 hours notice before disruptive solar particles interfere with the planet's magnetic field. These particles pose risks to typically secure electronics and even blockchain technology.

Recent scientific initiatives, like the University of Villanova's experiment launched aboard a SpaceX rocket, seek to examine the impact of radiation on blockchain systems in space. Sudler's team aims to investigate potential data disruptions due to radiation exposure in space.

Despite Earth's protective mechanisms, ongoing research offers insights into fortifying technology against solar disruptions. Sudler's aspirations extend to envisioning blockchain networks reaching beyond Earth, including potential deployments to the moon and Mars.

While the impending solar storm presents a digital challenge, ongoing scientific exploration seeks to fortify our technological resilience, paving the way for innovations beyond our planet's confines.